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Around the AFC North: Browns Navigating Wide Receiver Contract Situation After He Skipped Minicamp

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) during pregame warmups before an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 in Houston.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) during pregame warmups before an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 in Houston.

Cleveland Browns: Andrew Berry Talks About Amari Cooper Contract Situation

After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper skipped mandatory minicamp this month while seeking a contract extension. He's entering the final year of a reported five-year, $100-million deal, and it's uncertain if he and the Browns will reach an agreement prior to training camp.

General Manager Andrew Berry declined to discuss specifics concerning the dialogue between the Browns and Cooper. However, Berry made it clear that Cooper remains a major part of their plans for the 2024 season.

"What I will say about Amari is since he's been a member of the Cleveland Browns, he's obviously been a high-level, Pro Bowl-caliber receiver," Berry said on NFL Network's "Insiders," via Nick Shook of "But he's also a great teammate and he's a great professional. We're happy to have him as a member of the organization.

"Sometimes all teams will have periods where they go through this type of situation, but it does not change our affinity for Amari. We'll navigate the business considerations, the business aspects, as it goes, but he is a big part of our team, and just as important, he's a big part of our culture."

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson would love to see Cooper's situation resolved but is backing the stance that his No. 1 receiver is taking.

"Amari is our brother, our teammate, we support him, and the decisions that he got to make for himself," Watson said via Pro Football Talk. "But everyone in this locker room respects him and knows exactly what he's about. And whenever he gets back, he's going to be ready to go. ... He's got to handle what he got to handle, and nobody is looking any different on him."

The Browns traded for 25-year-old wide receiver Jerry Jeudy this offseason and he signed a three-year, $52.5 million contract.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ex-Raven DeShon Elliott Loves Reuniting With Patrick Queen

Patrick Queen becoming a Steeler has gotten plenty of attention, but he's not the only former Raven on Pittsburgh's defense. DeShon Elliott also joined the black and gold during free agency and is expected to be the starting safety opposite Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Elliott spent his first four NFL seasons (2018-21) with the Ravens and bonded with Queen during the two years they spent together in Baltimore. Elliott said his relationship with Queen has picked up where it left off.

"We hang out a lot off the field," Elliott said via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We were just playing putt-putt together a couple days ago. I beat him — very bad. I love him to death, like a brother."

Elliott suffered three season-ending injuries with Baltimore, but he played 15 games with Miami last season and 14 games for the Lions in 2022. The Steelers believe Elliott will be an asset in a division known for its physicality.

"He knows what AFC North football is about, you know, starting in Baltimore," Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin said. "He's also a real good pro. He brings some toughness in that secondary, where he's going to get down in there, he can punish some ball carriers. I think that gives us a level of physicality that we really want and like, and he does some things in the slot as well. So, he brings us some flexibility in there, and that's what we like."

Cincinnati Bengals: Dax Hill Feels Comfortable Switching to Corner From Safety

After two seasons at safety, former first-round pick Dax Hill is embracing a switch to cornerback and is competing for a starting job with second-year corner D.J. Turner. Hill, brother of Ravens running back Justice Hill, was taking reps with the first team at Bengals minicamp and feels his confidence growing as he adapts to a new position.

"I feel like obviously it was a transition, one I'm going to have to make but I feel comfortable," Hill said via Laurel Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News. "I trust the coaches. They've been preparing me well. Right now, just with OTAs, there's only certain things we can do right now, but they've been getting me prepared."

Hill played corner sparingly at Michigan, but he's embracing the challenge. Taking practice reps in training camp covering Bengals wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins will offer a major test.

"To be honest, a lot of people think I played corner before, but I haven't played too much, so I really have to start from square one and take it a day at a time," Hill said. "I feel like it's been good. I feel a little bit better in my techniques and certain things like that."

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