Contract Situation Heading Into Training Camp?

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Heading into any training camp of any year, there will always be question marks that need to be answered and usually some type of contract situation that the media blows up because hey let’s face it, it’s the slow season of sports and we need something to talk about. We were just spoiled by the start of baseball season, the NFL Draft and free agency frenzies along with the playoffs of the NBA and NHL. That all just came to a halt and this year it just so happens to be Amari Cooper’s turn with the veteran wide receiver entering the final year of his contract.

A video surfaced of Cooper getting challenged to a race and with him declining stating “I’m trying to get paid this year.” This wasn’t a “Look at me!” type of statement, but more of a slight nod to let it be known he is trying to get a contract extension. Both sides have known about this and are working to get a deal struck. Cooper is set to make just over $23 million this year but is seeking a long-term deal. Having just turned 30 in June, Amari is certainly in the second half of his career and without blame- wants to have security before risking an injury. He was not present at the mandatory OTA’s, but plenty of players have done so and shown up to training camp. He is a veteran who is returning to the same offense, with the same quarterback and knows how to prepare his body for the season.

When should we start to worry? If a deal isn’t agreed upon within the first week or so of training camp with no sign of Cooper, anxiety will undoubtedly start to mount inside the building. Coaches and players both would be hounded by the media and overall would be a distraction that is not healthy for the team.

We all remember last year how the Chiefs’ Chris Jones contract dispute dominated the sports training camp news and the front office would like to avoid that distraction this year. Jones missed all of training camp but eventually showed up to the first game of the regular season and played. Jones got that massive contract extension after the season. Bucs WR Mike Evans took a “hold in” approach last year and decided to play the season after negotiations failed during and before training camp and shelved the contract situation till the end of the year. He also got a great contract extension this offseason.

The browns only have ~$13 million in cap space left this year and will be roughly 42 million over the cap next year, according to OvertheCap.com. My guess? The deal gets done sooner rather than later. I think it’ll be in the ballpark range of a 3yr/$55mil deal, converted into a signing bonus with void years. This is a similar deal to Mike Evans who is the same age as Cooper, but with an added year. It would be smart to tie Watson and Cooper together until both their contracts expire as they both continue to grow chemistry.

There are many ways this can play out with Cooper and we haven’t even explored the trade route yet. I think that is doubtful as the Browns are in a “Win-Now” situation. The most likely scenario is that he will sign a contract extension and play, or.. he will play under his current deal. Complete season holdouts aren’t nearly quite as common, but we will see.

I think I can speak for all browns fans and company… We all want this resolved and out of the way now. Unfortunately, that’s just not how this works.

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