Browns explain Amari Cooper trade, NFL free agency moves: 'His skill set fits perfectly'
Amari Cooper arrived at Browns headquarters in Berea and passed his physical Wednesday, finalizing the trade Cleveland and the Dallas Cowboys agreed upon this past weekend.
The Browns announced the deal and several others after free agency officially started at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“I am really excited about joining the Cleveland Browns," Cooper said in a news release. "They have a passionate fan base that I can’t wait to play in front of. Winning is the goal — that is what it is all about. That’s why we play the game. I'm excited to come in, get to work and contribute to winning.”
The Browns sent a fifth-round pick (No. 155 overall) in the April 28-30 NFL Draft to the Cowboys for Cooper. The two teams also swapped sixth-round choices as part of the deal, with the Cowboys receiving No. 193 overall and the Browns No. 202 overall.
Cooper, 27, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in five of his seven NFL seasons.
Cooper is one of five NFL receivers — Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins are the others — to record at least 7,000 receiving yards and 45 touchdown catches since 2015, when the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the first round (No. 4 overall) out of the University of Alabama.
“Amari Cooper has been a consistent playmaker in this league," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in the release. "He is a great route runner. His skill set fits perfectly with what we want to do on offense. On top of that, he is all about that work. He’s a team player to his core. We are excited that Amari is a Cleveland Brown."
The Browns revealed Cooper has chosen to wear No. 2 on his jersey in Cleveland.
Browns announce they traded linebacker Mack Wilson for former Patriots edge defender Chase Winovich
The Browns announced their other recent trade, too. They sent linebacker Mack Wilson to the New England Patriots in exchange for defensive end Chase Winovich on Tuesday.
A 2019 third-round pick from the University of Michigan, Winovich has appeared in 45 regular-season games and registered 85 tackles, 11 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one interception. He didn't have any sacks in 13 games last season, so the Browns are betting on a revival.
“We’re excited about adding Chase Winovich to our defense," Stefanski said. "He’s a high-energy football player with relentless pass-rush ability, and we think he will fit in well with our defensive scheme."
Cleveland Browns agree to terms with free agents Taven Bryan, Jakeem Grant
The Browns announced they agreed to contractual terms with two unrestricted free agents, former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan and former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl return specialist Jakeem Grant.
On Monday, Bryan received a one-year deal worth as much as $5 million, a league source confirmed. Early Wednesday, Grant received a three-year contract worth up to $13.8 million with incentives, per another league source.
Drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Jaguars in 2018, Bryant has started 17 of the 63 games in which he's appeared and compiled 86 tackles, 5½ sacks, 15 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and one pass defensed.
“Taven Bryan is a young player with a lot of upside," Stefanski said. "He is a big, physical player in the middle of the defense. He is going to fit in well with our group on the defensive line."
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The Miami Dolphins traded Grant to the Bears on Oct. 5. In his six NFL seasons, he has appeared in 81 regular-season games, returning 119 punts for 1,228 yards (10.3 average) and four touchdowns and 110 kickoffs for 2,699 yards (24.5 average) and two touchdowns. He set Dolphins franchise records for total return touchdowns (five) and punt return touchdowns (three).
A sixth-round pick in 2016, Grant has also caught 100 passes on on 161 targets for 1,140 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with 17 carries for 76 yards (4.5 average) and a touchdown.
“We are excited about what Jakeem Grant brings on both offense and special teams," Stefanski said. "He’s a versatile, dynamic player that has great speed. He’s been one of the top returners in the NFL and we are excited to utilize his skill set."
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Cleveland Browns agree to retain Anthony Walker Jr., Chris Hubbard
Meanwhile, the Browns did not retain versatile defensive back M.J. Stewart or wide receiver Rashard Higgins in free agency. Stewart is reportedly heading to the Houston Texans and Higgins the Carolina Panthers.
Landry will visit the Atlanta Falcons, according to ESPN.
Running back D'Ernest Johnson only restricted free agent tendered by Cleveland Browns
The Browns placed the low tender worth $2.433 million on running back D'Ernest Johnson, giving them the right of first refusal should he sign an offer sheet from another club as a restricted free agent.
But the Browns didn't tender any of their other potential restricted or exclusive rights free agents, a person familiar with the team's decisions said.
That means kicker Chase McLaughlin, quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Stephen Carlson and defensive end Porter Gustin are on the open market. Like Johnson, they were eligible to be tendered as restricted free agents.
Defensive tackle Malik McDowell and guard Hjalte Froholdt were eligible to be tendered as exclusive rights free agents, but the Browns let them become available, too.
A starter last season, McDowell was not expected to be retained because of his arrest in January.
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.