Why did the Cleveland Browns trade for Jerry Jeudy and extend his contract?

In the four seasons after Denver made wide receiver Jerry Jeudy the 15th selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the former Alabama All-American’s performance didn’t consistently match that investment by the Broncos.

During his four seasons, Jeudy had 211 receptions, 3,053 yards and 11 touchdowns. Since the start of the 2020 season, 31 wide receivers have exceeded Jeudy’s totals in all three of those stats.

Those numbers didn’t concern the Cleveland Browns, who traded fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft to obtain Jeudy on March 9. Cleveland made the trade even though it had Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore at wide receiver, with 2022 third-rounder David Bell and 2023 third-rounder Cedric Tillman up next.

“We feel like we have an individual who’s an elite separator, can play inside and outside, produced in less-than-ideal circumstances and usage for various reasons in Denver,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said, “and we feel like he complements our group really nicely.”

But the Browns didn’t stop at trading for Jeudy. Cleveland also signed him to a three-year, $52.5 million contract extension, and Berry viewed locking in Jeudy through the 2027 season at that price as a wise personnel move.

“One of the things that we feel like is a competitive advantage for us has been our contract-management philosophy,” Berry said. “We’re firm believers that in that space the best front offices or the best teams are proactive as opposed to reactionary in market dynamics. …

“In Jerry’s case, you already saw two new receiver contracts enter the market that really are harbingers of things to come in that market. Probably by Week 1 of the NFL season, the top of that market’s going to be north of $30 million (per season). And so as we think of the contract-management space, rather than be reactive to new market dynamics, we try to be proactive, and probably more importantly, when we think about an extension or a signing, we think about: OK, where’s the market actually going to be on Sept. 1 as opposed to maybe an irrelevant market on March 1, so to speak.”

Cooper and Moore also are entering the final seasons of their contracts in 2024 and could be unrestricted free agents next offseason.

In his ninth NFL season, Cooper reached a career-high 1,250 receiving yards in 2023 as he caught 72 passes and scored five touchdowns in his fifth Pro Bowl season.

Moore had 59 receptions for 640 yards and two touchdowns, Tillman had 21 receptions for 224 yards and Bell had 14 receptions for 167 yards and three touchdowns in 2023.

The Browns used one of their six 2024 draft choices on a wide receiver by taking Louisville’s Jamari Thrash in the fifth round.

“We’re excited about adding Jerry to that room,” Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s another talented player. He can win in a variety of ways. We just think if you add good players to complement what you have already, it makes life easier on the other guys as well. Jerry’s a guy that we’ve spent a lot of time on both as he was coming out and over the past few years. Really like his skill set, like his ability to separate, like his ability to make plays with the football. …

“I mean, he has the speed, the acceleration, the burst to make plays down the field, so we’re excited about the skillset, we’re excited about the person.”

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson said Berry had been after Jeudy for a while.

“I’ve known pretty much since I got traded that was an opportunity that AB wanted to get done,” Watson said. “It took a little minute, but he got it done, and I think he’s going to be a great addition with Amari and Elijah. Those three guys have already been together this offseason. Very similar types of guys from the same similar area, so it’s going to be fun to toss the ball around to those guys.”

Cooper, Jeudy and Moore were prep stars in South Florida – Cooper at Miami Northwestern, Jeudy at Deerfield Beach and Moore at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale.

Like Jeudy, Cooper was an All-American at Alabama.


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