The Cleveland Browns’ passing offense should be a lot more explosive this season as they made a change at the quarterback position. Deshaun Watson will be taking over as the starter, as long as he avoids being suspended, replacing Baker Mayfield.
Watson will have a new No. 1 target to throw the ball to as well. The Browns also acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys via trade earlier this offseason. Cooper couldn’t have landed in a much better spot when it comes to having a chance to produce.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Alabama has shown that he is more than capable of being a No. 1 receiver for a team. However, in the last two seasons, he has seen his target share shrink in Dallas as they selected CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and also had Michael Gallup in the mix.
It resulted in a down year in 2021 for Cooper, who had a 19 percent target share, averaging 6.9 targets per game, which is the lowest of his career. His 68 receptions and 865 yards were both the second-lowest outputs of his career, but he did score a career-high-tying eight touchdowns through the air.
In 2022, Cooper has a chance to get things back on track as the unquestioned No. 1 target in the Browns’ passing game. The only thing that is holding him back is if Watson is suspended. Jacoby Brissett is a solid backup quarterback but doesn’t offer nearly the same upside as Watson does to impact Cooper’s production.
Over at ESPN, they are projecting Cooper to have a solid season with his new team. They are projecting Cooper to turn his 119 targets into 80 receptions for 932 yards and six touchdowns. If Watson is cleared to play in all 17 games, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cooper top those projections.
Seeing what Watson has accomplished with No. 1 receivers in the past, those are likely the baseline of what we will see from Cooper this season. Still only 27-years old, he has a chance to push for WR1 status if they can click from Day 1 based on the production of Watson’s other top options.
The Browns are a run-first offense, which opposing defenses know. But, with Watson and Cooper now in the fold, they should be able to take full advantage of any team that stacks the box and dares them to pass the ball.