When it comes to the waiver wire in the NFL, one man’s trash could potentially become another man’s treasure. That appears to be the case with Jonathan Cooper, the guard that was released by the New England Patriots this week and claimed by the Cleveland Browns, as reported by ESPN.
Earlier in the year, the New England Patriots shocked the NFL when the traded away Chandler Jones, one of the better pass rushers in professional football. They sent him to the Arizona Cardinals. In return, they received a second round draft pick and Jonathan Cooper, a talented guard that has yet to figure out how to be a star in the National Football League.
Jonathan Cooper was supposed to be the starting right guard for the New England Patriots. He spent much of training camp in that role, but a foot injury sidelined him. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is all business, so he went with the next man up.
That next man up happened to be Shaq Mason. He was a fourth round draft pick of the New England Patriots back in 2015. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star captured the starting right guard position that Jonathan Cooper was supposed to have taken over. Mason doesn’t seem interested in relinquishing the spot.
Injuries have plagued the interior offensive line of the Cleveland Browns. The team has started three different players at the center position. Jonathan Cooper doesn’t play center, but if he can provide steady play at guard, one of the other players can move to the middle.
Of course, that might seem to be asking a lot from Jonathan Cooper. The former seventh overall selection in the NFL Draft failed to get on the field during the first four games of the regular season for the New England Patriots. That made it easier for Bill Belichick to move on.
Bill Belichick won’t consider the trade a failure, however. He was able to parlay that second round draft pick from the Arizona Cardinals into two selections. Both rookies taken in the subsequent move have shown flashes of being able to be long term contributors for the New England Patriots.
Since they are sitting on a 4-1 record, the New England Patriots should be fine without Jonathan Cooper. Starting quarterback Tom Brady and starting linebacker Rob Ninkovic are both back on the field after serving four game suspensions to start the regular NFL season.
For many, going from the New England Patriots to the Cleveland Browns seems like a downgrade. However, for Jonathan Cooper, it is an opportunity to prove that he belongs in the NFL. With less pressure, Cooper might be able to focus on being the best offensive lineman that he can be.
It is not impossible to be noticed as an offensive lineman while wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey. Joe Thomas has proven that. He has been to nine straight Pro Bowl games, despite playing in obscurity. Thomas is the subject of trade rumors, but that is only because NFL teams keep calling about his availability.
If Jonathan Cooper fails to make an impact with the Cleveland Browns, then this might be his last chance to make it in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots are two of the more respected franchises in the league. If you struggle to find success with them, then executives and coaches might start thinking that you are the problem.
At just 26 years of age, Jonathan Cooper still has time to prove that he can be an asset in the NFL. He’s receiving his third chance to prove that, so he has to make the most of it.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]