Jun. 25—The Browns needed a No. 1 receiver after they released Odell Beckham Jr. in November and Jarvis Landry in March. So they sent a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft to Dallas for Amari Cooper, who made the Pro Bowl twice with the Oakland Raiders and twice with the Cowboys. The Browns and Cowboys also exchanged 2022 sixth-round picks in the deal.
Cooper is regarded as one of the best route runners in the NFL. He showed that veteran skill in spring practices and the recently concluded minicamp. But he is more than that, his new teammates learned in the offseason program, which lasted from mid-April through mid-June.
Cooper has firmly established himself as the leader in the wide receivers' room. He demonstrated that with what he said after the final practice of minicamp when he talked about his plans until training camp begins July 27.
"Some teams have more plays than others," Cooper said. "Specifically speaking on the Browns, we've installed everything. It's not that much to memorize or to perfect. I can see how we can be very successful with the plays that we have.
"I think I'll master it in this six-week break that we have. I'm taking my iPad with me, and I'll be studying the whole time. I think by the time I come back for training camp I'll have all of the details ironed out."
If a veteran like Amari Cooper dedicates his down time to mastering the playbook, even if "studying the whole time" might be a slight exaggeration, then Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and rookie David Bell should be doing the same thing.
"It's been great," Schwartz said when asked about Cooper. "Coopie is a great guy, a great down-to-earth guy. He's quiet but he gets his work done. He kind of sets that standard.
"We have to shut up and get our work done. He's a great guy to follow. He gives me great tips on releases on route running. He's one of the best receivers in this league, so it's great having a guy like that around."
Schwartz talked about one example of how Cooper is helping the young receivers. Schwartz is faster, but not every play Schwartz will be asked to run is a go-route.
"There's not one way to get open," Schwartz said. "You have to find what works for you and you just have to add to your toolbox. We were watching clips of him running slants. Even last year, he had like 10 or plus different ways that he gets open on a slant.
"It's just something that I want to add to my game being able to do so many different things, to add so many different tools so I can get open on a slant or any route in many different ways."
Cooper has 517 career catches for 7,076 yards and 46 touchdown passes.
—The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers continue to be the most likely trade destinations for Baker Mayfield. It has been that way since the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson from the Texans on March 18.
Mayfield would instantly be Seattle's best quarterback. The current options are Geno Smith and Drew Lock.
Seattle finished 7-10 last season, last in the AFC West, with Russell Wilson throwing 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Like Mayfield with the Browns last year, Wilson was 6-8 as a starter. The Seahawks traded Wilson to Denver in March.
If anyone could motivate Mayfield, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll could. But would adding Mayfield enable Seattle to jump over the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams in the NFC West? It's doubtful.
The Browns might have to agree to pay up to $12 million of Mayfield's guaranteed $18,853,000 2022 contract to unload him, whether to the Seahawks or the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina makes sense because Panthers coach Matt Ruhle has to win to keep his job. Rookie Matt Corral and Sam Darnold, chosen by the Jets with the third pick in the 2018 draft, two picks after the Browns took Mayfield, are the current Panther quarterbacks.
That situation isn't promising for Carolina fans, just as going into the 2022 season with Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs as the Browns quarterbacks isn't promising if the NFL suspends Watson for the entire season.
The league, before training camp begins, is expected to punish Watson for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy in connection with 24 massage therapists who sued him for alleged sexual misconduct during the massage sessions. Twenty of the women accepted a settlement last week. But the payoffs do not clear Watson's name or repair the NFL's image.
Mayfield did not participate in the Browns' voluntary offseason program. He was told to stay away from mandatory minicamp earlier this month.
The bridges between Mayfield and the coaches, Mayfield and the front office and Mayfield and his teammates seem burned beyond repair. That said, he might still be the best option for Kevin Stefanski's team if Watson is banished for the season.
Could it actually happen? Could Baker Mayfield be throwing passes to Cooper, Schwartz, Bell and Peoples-Jones in the season opener on the road against the Panthers?
We're talking about the Browns here. Nothing is too unreal to be impossible.
I didn't know that
... until I read my Snapple bottle cap.
An octopus has nine brains and three hearts. ... The strike note of the Liberty Bell is E-flat. ... A pearl will dissolve in vinegar. ... Astronauts can't burp in space. ... A male Gentoo penguin proposes to a female with a smooth pebble. If she likes it, she puts it in her nest. ... There are about three chickens for every person on earth — 23 billion chickens and 7 billion people.