Amari Cooper's contract situation has the Cleveland Browns' veteran wide receiver in a minicamp holdout, and general manager Andrew Berry said the importance of the player to the team is part of the negotiation process.

“We’ll navigate business considerations, business aspects as it goes, but he is a big part of our team and, just as importantly, a big part of our culture,” Berry told NFL Network insiders on Tuesday.

Cooper stayed away from the team through the voluntary OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, which ran from June 11-13. He is in the final year of his contract, a five-year $100 million deal he signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Browns' Amari Cooper wants upper-echelon NFL WR contract

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Top performers like Justin Jefferson have been paid big-time money, so it makes sense Cooper is among those lined up for their share. But he may find it a difficult ask because his performance doesn't quite match with the game's best wideouts. Pro Football Focus ranks him at No. 20, well below the elite tier.

Cooper's argument for a better deal will have to go beyond the cold, hard numbers. He had plenty of targets (122) last season, turning those opportunities into 72 catches for 1,250 yards. The catches ranked him in a tie for 26th place while the yards secured a top-10 finish. But he only secured five touchdown receptions, landing him at No. 28.

An outlier game against the Houston Texans in late December also clouds the issue for Cooper. He hauled in 11 passes for 265 yards and two scores. Prior to that game, he averaged only 4.3 catches and 70.4 yards per game, hardly the numbers of a big-contract receiver.

And in the postseason loss to the same Houston team, Cooper couldn't break free for another big game. He finished with five catches for 59 yards with a long reception of 19.

Yet another problem is his age. NFL receivers generally reach their peak performances in their mid-to-late 20s, followed by a gradual decline. It's hard to imagine Cooper will be able to beat the age clock as he turned 30 on June 17. The NFL is growing decidedly younger at the position with more pro-ready players coming out of the college ranks. This will likely be his final chance for a major payday.

Working in Cooper's favor

Amari Cooper's 2023 numbers may have been dampened by playing for four different quarterbacks. However, the argument can also be made that backup quarterback Joe Flacco turned back the clock and gave Cooper plenty of opportunities to shine.

Another factor on Cooper's side is the role he has played in changing the culture for the Browns. They are considered major players in the AFC playoff picture. Cooper's leadership and professionalism are part of the new outlook.

With the Browns on the brink of perhaps great things, getting all their key components on the happy page is an important step toward the 2024 season.