The Cleveland Browns restructured quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s contract in order to create significant NFL salary cap space to improve their roster. However, it appears the front office won’t be pursuing one of the best players available on the trade market.
It’s been an active offseason in Cleveland, with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, safety Juan Thornhill and defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo among the big free-agency signings. Even after spending heavily on the defensive side, the Browns still have the cap space to add another big piece to improve their Super Bowl odds.
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The Arizona Cardinals have made All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins available for trade this offseason, seeking draft picks to help with their rebuild. As reported by Sportsnaut’s NFL insider Benjamin Allbright, the New England Patriots, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons are just a few of the teams in the mix for Hopkins.
- DeAndre Hopkins stats (2022): 64 receptions, 717 receiving yards, 35 first downs
However, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, the Browns are reportedly not one of the teams currently in the mix of clubs pursuing a trade for Hopkins.
Cap space isn’t necessarily the issue for Cleveland, given the star wide receiver is willing to restructure his contract. Instead, the organization seems to be prioritizing other targets on the trade market over Hopkins.
Related: Cleveland Browns pursuing trade for young wide receiver
- DeAndre Hopkins contract: $29.988 million cap hit (2023), $25.45 million cap hit (’24)
The Browns’ front office is aware of its lack of depth at the position. While Amari Cooper thrived as the No. 1 receiving option last season, Donovan Peoples-Jones finished second on the team inn receptions (61) and receiving yards (839). The organization’s preference is to shift him into a more complementary role as the No. 3 receiver, with a more dependable option serving in a tandem with Cooper next season.
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With limited draft capital, thanks to the 2022 Watson acquisition, free agency and the trade market are the only viable paths for Cleveland to improve the roster. If the Browns can acquire a high-end No. 2 receiver to pair with the additions made defensively, they could return to the playoffs and challenge for the AFC North title.