The Cleveland Browns have made a myriad of moves this offseason to help improve their team and retain players they thought were important. None of those moves have been the big splash type or brought in an exciting weapon for the offense. (No offense to TE Jordan Akins.)
According to multiple reports, the Browns aren’t sitting on their hands for offensive weapons but they haven’t treated it like a need. WR Jerry Jeudy is still being pursued while WR Marquise Goodwin is taking a visit with the team.
Two players that some wondered if Cleveland would pursue because of their ties to QB Deshaun Watson and their availability in trade talks, Brandin Cooks and DeAndre Hopkins, don’t seem to be headed for a reunion. Cooks was traded to the Dallas Cowboys while the Browns are reportedly not in on a Hopkins trade:
Hopkins has been an elite receiver in the league, including his time with Watson, but has only played in a total of 19 games combined the last two seasons and will be 31 years old in a couple of months.
While the talented receiver may be willing to make adjustments to his contract, there are varying reports and statements about wanting an extension but willing to be flexible, he is currently set to cost almost $30 million on the Arizona Cardinals salary cap. For 2023, Hopkins will be making almost $20 million in base salary.
Similar to the discussion related to a Jeudy acquisition, acquiring Hopkins will not only cost the team draft compensation and salary cap space in 2023 but would likely lead to multiple players not being retained starting in 2024. A trade for the Cardinals would cost them over $20 million in dead salary cap space in 2023 for a player who was not playing on their team.
Given Hopkins' age, injury history, likely contract, impact on Cleveland’s current and future salary cap and future roster constraints, the lack of interest makes sense. If the Browns were in the NFC, where there is one or two elite quarterbacks at this time, an all-in move like that might make sense. The AFC is so loaded that the acquisition of Hopkins, at this point, probably doesn’t move the team’s Super Bowl chances very much at all.