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Amari Cooper absent from Browns minicamp, holding out for contract extension

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Deshaun Watson tested his surgically repaired right shoulder by rifling passes to Browns receivers.

None went to Amari Cooper.

Cleveland’s No. 1 wide receiver did not report to the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, presumably because Cooper, who is entering his final season under contract, is seeking an extension from the Browns.

Coach Kevin Stefanski said Cooper’s absence was not excused. Stefanski would not confirm if the soon-to-be 30-year-old has asked the team for more money.

Stefanski said there has been dialogue between the Browns and Cooper’s representatives.

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Cooper will make $20 million this season, his last on a five-year deal he signed with Dallas. He’s subject to fines while he’s not at the team’s facility.

Per the collective bargaining agreement, Cooper can be fined $16,953 for the first day.

  • Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) catches a pass as Houston Texans linebacker Denzel Perryman (6) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
  • Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) reacts during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Maria Lysaker)
    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) reacts during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Maria Lysaker)
  • Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper smiles during a press conference after an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper smiles during a press conference after an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

His agent, Chafie Fields, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Browns acquired Cooper before the 2022 season in a trade from the Cowboys. He’s had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and became one of the Browns’ strongest leaders on and off the field.

“He’s the best in the league,” Watson said. “He shows it each and every year. He’s showed it the last two years with different quarterbacks, so I think you’ve got to put him up there with the best.”

Cooper’s absence isn’t that surprising, given the large contracts being signed by wide receivers around the NFL. Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson (four years, $140 million) and Miami’s Jaylen Waddle (three years, $85 million) both signed monster deals.

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Also, the Browns made a substantial investment in newly acquired wideout Jerry Jeudy, signing him to a three-year, $52 million extension before he played a single game in Cleveland.

Cooper was in Cleveland over the weekend and played in Browns tight end David Njoku’s charity softball game.

“We all respect Coop and he’s got to handle what he’s got to handle,” Watson said when asked about Cooper’s situation. “Nobody is looking any different than on him. We all support him and he was here this weekend with us and we had a good time seeing him.”

Cooper had 72 catches for 1,250 yards and five touchdowns last season while making his fifth Pro Bowl. He’s got 9,486 yards and 60 touchdowns in 10 seasons with the Raiders, Cowboys and Browns.

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