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Cleveland Browns

It’s hard to imagine Cameron Heyward not playing for the Steelers. By next year, he might be.

“I have talked to my wife, and we know the reality, and we have had those talks, and she said it could be fun to play somewhere else,” Heyward said this week, via Mark Kaboly of “If that is what is needed to be done, then so be it.”

Heyward added this possibility, which will make fans of the black and gold a little green: “I still have family in Cleveland . . . my wife is from Cleveland. We will see. I am not trying to think about all that right now.”

The comments come a week after Heyward, a first-round pick in 2011, said he wanted to be a “one-helmet guy.”

Heyward stayed away from a large chunk of the offseason program as he tried to get an extension on a contract that pays $16 million this year. With or without a new deal from the Steelers, he won’t be calling it quits after 2024.

“I don’t even know which way to even lean,” Heyward said. “We will see what happens. But I can assure you this: I will be playing in 2025, I will tell you that.”

If there’s another team that will give Heyward what he wants now, why not force the issue? Coach Mike Tomlin often says, “We want volunteers, not hostages.” At some point, Heyward should consider whether there’s a team that will volunteer to trade for him — and to pay him — if he decides to accelerate the timetable to add a second helmet.

The Browns wrapped up their offseason program Thursday at the conclusion of the final minicamp practice.

The team did receive a scare early in the practice when edge rusher Myles Garrett ended a defensive line drill holding his left hamstring, Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The reigning defensive player of the year immediately sought out head athletic trainer Joe Sheehan and assistant athletic trainer Gordon Williams.

Garrett did not participate in the rest of practice, doing upper-body resistance band work by himself for a few minutes before talking with co-owner Dee Haslam.

Coach Kevin Stefanski expressed no concern about Garrett’s hamstring.

“He will be fine,” Stefanski said, via Easterling.

Garrett, though, left the field in the passenger seat of a Gator utility vehicle.

He has his youth camp at a local high school Friday.

Legendary Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who once got the treatment from Bill Belichick that Tom Brady spent 20 years trying to avoid, got fired by the Browns a second time in 2023 — for placing a wager on a sportsbook app after Ohio legalized gambling.

Kosar is now suing over the incident.

Via Amos Morales III of, Kosar filed a civil suit against podcasting company BIGPLAY and co-owner Kendall Myles. In the complaint, Kosar claims that the company breached its contract with him, and attempted to threaten him so that he would change the terms of his deal.

He seeks damages in excess of $850,000, along with approximately $25,000 in attorneys’ fees.

In a nutshell, Kosar claims the company told him he had to place a $19,000 bet on the Browns to beat the Steelers. The wager was required by his contract, but his contract also “guaranteed that Mr. Kosar would ‘not be liable, nor responsible, for the amount of the wager nor will be entitled to any winnings that may occur as a result of the wager.’”

After Kosar placed the bet, the Browns fired Kosar for violating the league’s gambling policy.

The lawsuit encompasses other alleged incidents in which Kosar’s agreement allegedly wasn’t honored. Kosar claims Myles verbally assaulted and threatened him.

A lawyer representing the defendants called the allegations “false.”

True or false, Kosar had a dilemma. The NFL’s gambling policy prohibits wagering. His deal with BIGPLAY required him to place a wager. Even if his BIGPLAY contract said he wouldn’t be liable or responsible for the bet, and that he wouldn’t get any of the winnings, that’s not binding on the NFL.

Unless the BIGPLAY contract also promised to compensate Kosar for any collateral losses he might experience because of the wagers (including but not limited to the loss of his job with the Browns), this could be a tough one for the former quarterback to win.

In hindsight, he should have been sure that one employer wouldn’t object to something another employer wanted him to do.

It’s just another example of the way that legalized wagering has impacted widespread aspects of the NFL and other sports. In many situations, folks won’t know the best way to handle these new situations until someone handles a given situation the wrong way, creating a lesson for anyone else in that same situation.

Two years ago, the Cowboys decided that receiver Amari Cooper’s $20 million per year contract was too rich for their silver-and-blue blood. Now, Cooper has decided that it’s not nearly enough.

And he’s right.

The market at the position has changed dramatically since the Cowboys unloaded Cooper’s contract onto the Browns, at a time when the Cowboys would have cut him if they couldn’t have found a trade partner. Also, the salary cap has spiked, repeatedly.

Now, Cooper is skipping mandatory minicamp in an effort to get a new deal as he enters the final season of his contract, at a base salary of $20 million.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was asked about Cooper’s situation on Tuesday.

“He’s the best in the game, and I believe that,” Watson told reporters. “He shows it each and every year. He showed it the last two years with different quarterbacks. So, I think you got to put him up there, if not the best.”

Watson also said he has no problem with Cooper taking a stand.

“Amari is our brother, our teammate, we support him, and the decisions that he got to make for himself is on Amari,” Watson said. “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. And like I said, we all support him. And he was here this weekend with us, and we had a good time.”

That’s the right way for any quarterback to handle a teammate who’s trying to get more money. Show support, and stay out of the way.

It’s a far cry from one of the prime examples of what a quarterback shouldn’t do when a teammate is trying to get paid. In May 2005, Brett Favre openly chastised receiver Javon Walker’s effort to get a better deal from the Packers.

“If Javon wants to know what his quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I’d tell him he’s going about this the wrong way,” Favre said. “When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I’d tell him I’ve been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you.”

Favre kept going in his pro-management rant, which came just days after the team drafted his inevitable replacement, Aaron Rodgers.

“Maybe I’m old-school, but I always thought you honor a contract,” Favre said. “Sure, sometimes guys pass you up in salary, and maybe it’s a lesser player, but it’s all based on what a team has as far as value in that person.”

It got worse. “I sure hope the Packers don’t give in to him,” Favre said.

And this: “We can win without him.”

The game has changed dramatically since 2005, with fans and media realizing the risks of football give players a finite window to get paid, with a very real possibility that the compensation will come with chronic physical pain and potential mental problems later in life.

Fortunately, no quarterback since Favre has attacked a teammate who was simply looking to get fair compensation. Watson, on Tuesday, said exactly what he needed to say to show support for a teammate who believes that, in the last year of a contract that has become obsolete given changes to the market and increases in the salary cap, he deserves an adjustment.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson arguably faces the most important season of his career. In the third year of his five-year, fully-guaranteed, $230 million contract, he needs to finally give the Browns a return on their massive investment — especially since they also gave up three first-round picks and three other draft selections to get him.

The fact that he has played 12 total games since 2020 has him slipping in the various rankings of quarterbacks that currently are being published by various members of the media. (Chris Simms has him at No. 24.)

Speaking with reporters during the first day of Cleveland’s mandatory minicamp, Watson expressed his opinion regarding those who would put him low on the list.

“I don’t get involved with people trying to rate me places where they think I’m at the bottom of the list, you know, it is what it is,” Watson said. “If I was at the bottom, no one would talk about me. So, obviously, if anyone is talking about me, continue to talk about me, then I must be pretty damn good.”

That’s not why people are talking about him. They’re talking about him because he got a major contract after not playing for a full year, at a time when he had faced more than two dozen lawsuits for sexual misconduct during massage sessions. He played six games in 2022 due to a suspension for his behavior. He played six games in 2023 due to injury.

The jury is out on whether he can stay healthy and, if so, whether he can play well. He’s a topic of conversation because the pressure is on for him to become “pretty damn good” again. For three straight years, he hasn’t been.

Maybe he will be again. Maybe he won’t. That’s why he’s one of the most compelling figures for the 2024 season.

He’ll either justify the Browns for making the trade and giving him the contract, or he won’t. And if he doesn’t, the next question is whether the Browns will make a change in 2025, even if that means owing him $92 million to not play for them.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson did 7-on-7 work in front of reporters for the first time this offseason during Tuesday’s minicamp practice and he said after the session that he felt it was “truly a blessing” to be back on the field because he “came a long way from something that was a big scare last year.”

The big scare was the right shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. Watson has been throwing every other day during the Browns’ OTAs as part of a protocol designed to have his shoulder ready for the regular season and he said on Monday that he doesn’t know if they will remain in place into training camp.

Watson said there are “always checkpoints as we go through the process,” but that he feels he’s in a good place as the offseason program comes to an end.

“I’m in a very comfortable spot,” Watson said.

Watson noted that he didn’t play in 2021 and was suspended for 11 games in 2022 before last year’s injury and said those extended absences have made him value the importance of every rep he takes because he can’t get that time back. If Watson can hit the ground running in the fall, the present and future will be the only thing on minds in Cleveland.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper did not report to the Browns’ mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed after practice that the wideout’s absence was an unexcused one.

That subjects Cooper to fines of more than $100,000 for missing the entire minicamp. Cooper also missed OTAs and the belief is that he is looking for a new contract with the team.

Stefanski declined to address that beyond saying that there has “been a dialogue” between Cooper’s camp, General Manager Andrew Berry and the rest of the organization.

“I’ll really leave all that between Amari and Amari’s agent, AB and those type of conversations,” Stefanski said.

Cooper is in his third year with the Browns. He had 150 catches for 2,410 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

The Browns kicked off their mandatory minicamp without a key offensive player on Tuesday.

Reporters at the team’s practice noted that wide receiver Amari Cooper is not in attendance. Cooper will be subject to fines if his absence is unexcused and head coach Kevin Stefanski is scheduled to speak to reporters later on Tuesday.

Cooper is in the final year of his contract and did not attend the team’s voluntary OTA practices either. He has a base salary of $20 million for the 2024 season and Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said in March that the team wants to hold onto players like Cooper as long as possible.

The Browns traded for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in March and signed him to a three-year extension. We’ll see if Cooper’s absence helps grease the wheels for a new deal of his own.

The Cowboys will work out UFL linebacker Willie Harvey Jr. on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports.

Harvey, 28, made the All-UFL team while playing for the St. Louis Battlehawks this spring. He made 78 tackles and four sacks in 10 games, leading the league in tackles and also topping all linebackers in tackles for loss (nine), passes defensed (six) and forced fumbles (two).

The former Iowa State standout signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He spent three years in Cleveland and played four games, making two tackles in 48 special teams snaps.

Harvey has never played a snap on defense in a regular-season NFL game.

The Cowboys could use depth at the position.

Browns tight end David Njoku had the best year of his career in 2023, so the team’s decision to change offensive coordinators this offseason might have come as bad news.

Njoku sounded pretty positive about the move from Alex Van Pelt to Ken Dorsey this weekend, however. Njoku spoke to reporters at his charity softball game on Saturday and was asked about the offense that Dorsey has been installing this offseason. His answer provides reason for optimism in Cleveland heading into the fall.

“It is juicy,” Njoku said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “I am not going to say anything else. Leave it at that. But I’m really excited for this year.”

Njoku had 81 catches for 882 yards and six touchdowns — all career highs — in 2023 and said his goal for 2024 is to “just be better than last year.” That would be a positive development for the Browns’ hopes of getting back to the postseason.