Browns Rumors: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Mecole Hardman Among WR Options

Erin WalshMarch 12, 2023

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 21: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns stands during the national anthem during to an NFL game against the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are looking to make some upgrades at wide receiver this offseason, and a reunion with an old friend is among the reported options the franchise is considering.

The Browns are eying former wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and "have their sights on" Houston Texans veteran Brandin Cooks and Kansas City Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

New York Jets veteran Elijah Moore is also listed among the wide receivers Cleveland has interest in, according to Cabot.

The Browns have a solid group of receivers entering 2023 with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell, Anthony Schwartz and Jakeem Grant still on the roster. However, there's no doubt they could use another elite talent alongside Cooper.

Cooper led the team in 2022 with 78 catches for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns in 17 games. Peoples-Jones ranked second with 61 catches for 839 yards and three scores. Beyond those two, the production from wide receivers was minimal.

It's interesting that the Browns have interest in Beckham following his unceremonious departure from the franchise during the 2021 campaign, which was highlighted by the receiver's father posting a video which essentially ripped then-Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield for not throwing the ball to his son.

Beckham spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Browns from 2019 until his release midway through the 2021 campaign. His best season with the franchise came in 2019, when he caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games.

The 30-year-old appeared in just seven games during the 2020 season before suffering a torn ACL. He appeared in six games with Cleveland in 2021 before being released and signing with the Los Angeles Rams, whom he won a Super Bowl with in 2022.

Beckham tore his ACL during the Super Bowl with L.A., and he sat out the entire 2022 season while recovering from the ailment.

The three-time Pro Bowler held a workout for interested teams earlier this week in Arizona, and the Browns were among the franchises that had a group in attendance. According to Cabot, "the Browns and Beckham have remained on good terms since his controversial departure from the team in November of 2021."

Cabot added that Beckham was "universally loved" in the Browns locker room and that "there were rumblings he wanted to return after they traded for Deshaun Watson" last season.

Considering Beckham is a free agent this winter, has familiarity with the team and likely won't command a large contract, he would be a solid option for the Browns.

As for Cooks, he's under contract with the Texans through the 2024 season and has a $26.5 million cap hit for 2023, per Spotrac.

Cooks is a trade candidate this winter after reiterating "his desire to change teams and join a playoff contender after going 11-38-1 with the Texans over the past three seasons," per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.

However, Cooks' salary makes him difficult to trade, and it's unclear if the Browns would be open to taking on his contract.

That said, there's no denying the 29-year-old is an impact player. During three seasons with the Texans, he has caught 228 passes for 2,886 yards and 15 touchdowns in 44 games, posting back-to-back 1,000-plus-yard seasons in 2020 and 2021.

Hardman, meanwhile, is set to become a free agent after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Chiefs. Spotrac's calculated market value has him worth $10.3 million annually.

However, Hardman is nowhere near as talented as Beckham and Cooks.

The 24-year-old caught 25 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns in eight games last season, and his career high in yards is 693 yards, which he hit during the 2021 campaign.

The same can be said for Moore, who has caught 80 passes for 984 yards and six touchdowns in 27 games across two seasons with the Jets. Unlike Hardman, though, Moore is still under contract through the 2024 campaign and has a reasonable $2.4 million cap hit in 2023.