Amari Cooper Trade Intensifies Pressure on Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski

The Cleveland Browns stunned the NFL world by trading for Amari Cooper. They acquired the Pro Bowl wide receiver and a sixth-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round pick and a sixth-rounder. Kevin Stefanski’s squad now has a legitimate No. 1 receiving threat.

General manager Andrew Berry and the front office made the splash. Now, it’s time for the team to deliver. The Browns are coming off an extremely disappointing 8-9 season after making it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2020.

Cleveland has too much talent on its roster not to produce results. If the team doesn’t take a step forward during the 2022 season, the third-year head coach could end up on the hot seat.

Amari Cooper gives the Browns a legitimate No. 1 receiver

The NFL should charge the Cleveland Browns with robbery because that’s exactly what happened. Amari Cooper is arguably one of the 15 best wide receivers in the league today, and he’s undoubtedly one of the most precise route-runners.

The Browns entered the offseason with a massive void at the position. The team parted ways with Odell Beckham Jr. midseason due to his lack of chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield. His close friend, Jarvis Landry, now appears to be at odds with the front office. According to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter, Cleveland has granted Landry permission to seek a trade.

No matter what Andrew Berry decides to do with the veteran wideout, the door is wide open for Cooper to step into the No. 1 receiver role.

The former Cowboys star has been consistently productive when healthy. He recorded 292 receptions for 3,893 yards and 27 touchdowns in 56 games with Dallas. Cooper was part of a loaded offense and still found ways to produce. His target share should skyrocket in the Browns offense.

Why Kevin Stefanski should be feeling the pressure

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper reacts during a game; Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on from the sideline
Amari Cooper of the Dallas Cowboys on the sideline during game against the Washington Football Team | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images; Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns reacts during game against the Pittsburgh Steelers | Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Browns entered the 2021 season with plenty of hype. Kevin Stefanski’s crew had just posted an 11-5 season in 2020 and came close to knocking off the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Many people expected Cleveland to contend for an AFC North title, with some looking at the team as a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately, the team didn’t live up to the hype. After missing the playoffs entirely, the Browns are back to the drawing board in the offseason.

One of the biggest setbacks for this team in 2021 was Baker Mayfield’s inconsistency. The fourth-year signal-caller battled multiple injuries, but he was less than stellar when on the field. While the rushing attack was a point of strength, the offense lacked reliable receiving options.

That’s where Amari Cooper comes in. The Alabama product has the potential to be a game-changer for Cleveland. He’s excellent in short-yardage situations and can also stretch the field. Now, it’s up to the coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed. Kevin Stefanski is an offensive-minded coach, so he needs to figure out how to make it work.

If the Browns offense doesn’t make significant progress, it would be a bad look for the head coach.

Can Cleveland avoid disappointment in 2022?

The Cleveland Browns found out the hard way that teams don’t win championships on paper. The front office loaded the roster up with talent on both sides of the ball. Still, it didn’t all come together for Kevin Stefanski and company.

Cleveland heads into the 2022 season with a talented roster yet again. Pro Bowlers Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward lead the charge defensively. The unit finished in the middle of the pack, thanks to a slow start. If the front office can retain Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Walker Jr. and make a few tweaks, this could be a top-10 defense.

Concerns still exist on the offensive side of the ball, though. It starts with Baker Mayfield. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the jury is still out on whether or not he can be the franchise quarterback in Cleveland. Andrew Berry is hoping the acquisition of Amari Cooper can help maximize his potential.

The Browns boast a potent running game, led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The uncertainty at the quarterback position still limits the trajectory of the offense.

The AFC is getting much deeper, and there’s nothing to suggest Cleveland is a legitimate contender right now. It will take an all-around team effort to prove the 2020 season wasn’t a fluke.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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