Amari Cooper holding out from Browns minicamp amid spike in WR salaries

With wide receiver salaries spiking, Amari Cooper is holding out from mandatory Cleveland Browns minicamp.

Cooper was absent from the start of minicamp on Tuesday. He's approaching the the final season of a five-year, $100 million contract he signed as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed to reporters that Cooper's absence was not excused.

"It's not excused," Stefanski told reporters. "Obviously as you guys know, you really have to focus on the guys that are here. These situations, I understand that they do come up.

"I'll really leave all of that between Amari and Amari's agent, [Browns general manager Andrew Berry] and those type of conversations. Again, as you guys know, we focus on guys that are here. We'll get some good work in and really keep it at that."

Quarterback Deshaun Watson expressed his support for Cooper after Tuesday's practice session.

"He's our brother, our teammate. We support him and the decisions he's gotta make for himself," Watson said. "Everyone in this locker room respects him and knows exactly what he's about. Whenever he gets back, he's gonna be ready to go."

Cooper has not publicly stated the reason for his absence. But he presumably would like to cash in on the rising wide receiver market that's seen multiple contract records set this offseason.

Amari Cooper has one year left on a five-year, $100 million contract. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper has one year left on a five-year, $100 million contract. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

A.J. Brown signed a three-year, $96 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles in April that includes $84 million in guaranteed money. Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings then reset the wide receiver market with a four-year, $140 million contract extension on June 3. His $35 million average annual salary makes Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in football.

(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb and San Francisco 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk also engaged in minicamp holdouts as they seek to upgrade their pay rates.

Per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, players are subject to a $16,953 fine for missing the first day of three-day minicamp. If they miss all three days of minicamp, their fines would escalate to roughy $100,000 in total.

Cooper, a five-time Pro Bowler, tallied 72 catches for 1,250 yards and five touchdowns last season while playing with five different quarterbacks. His receiving yardage total ranked 10th in the NFL. He'll turn 30 on June 17 and is approaching the end of his prime earning years.

The Browns, meanwhile, are hoping to improve on an injury-riddled 2023 campaign that still managed to produce an 11-6 record and playoff berth. Cooper is Cleveland's No. 1 receiving option and a key part of those plans.