Amari Cooper is seeking to prove he’s still one of the top wide receivers in the game, getting the opportunity to be a No. 1 wide receiver again after the Cleveland Browns acquired him this offseason. Cooper was the top target with the Dallas Cowboys, but Dallas had to move on after CeeDee Lamb was emerging as the No. 1 wideout and Cooper was on the hook with three years remaining on his massive contract.
The Browns are giving Cooper the chance to be one of the elite receivers in the game again, as head coach Kevin Stefanski wants to pick his brain and decipher the routes he wants to run. Playing to Cooper’s strengths will bring out the best in him.
“You are talking to a very, very smart football player. He has seen all of the coverages. He has gone against every DB. I think he knows his game and what he is good at,” Stefanski said Saturday. “We had those conversations and great dialogue about routes that he has really consistently won on in his career because ultimately, as we put this together, we are trying to match up what our guys do best. Anytime you can have that conversation with a player, I think it is important.”
Cooper has been a top-10 wide receiver since the Cowboys acquired him in Week 9 of the 2018 season. He had 292 catches for 3,893 yards and 27 touchdowns since being traded to Dallas, ranking seventh in catches and ninth in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in that span. Cooper, who turned 28 last month, is one of six players since the merger with five receiving touchdowns in each of his first seven seasons. He has 7,076 yards before his 28th birthday, the ninth-most for any pass catcher in NFL history.
Cooper had 68 catches for 865 yards last season, his lowest totals in both categories since 2017. He still had eight touchdowns and averaged 12.7 yards per catch.
The Browns feel there’s plenty of good football left in Cooper, enough that he can return back to Pro Bowl form and become an elite target for Deshaun Watson (whenever he can suit up for Cleveland).
“The first thing you notice with Amari is just his size. I think his forward lean at that size really gets defensive backs’ attention,” Stefanski said. “With double moves – a single move or a double move – you really have to be definitive in what you do on that first move. I think he has the savviness to realize how much to spend on that first move before you get into that second move. You will see a lot of young players run a double move and they will rush it, and they will be very greedy with their first move and they do not sell it.
“With Amari and with the amount of reps he has had over his career, he has that savviness and that wherewithal to sell the first route first.”