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Jerry Jeudy feels ‘wanted,’ ‘welcomed’ after finally being traded to Browns

Jerry Jeudy had heard the rumors, just like everyone else.

Except he was the subject of them.

Rumor turned into reality over the last few days as the Browns finally acquired the talented receiver in a trade with the Denver Broncos. The agreement, which was reached Saturday, was announced Wednesday afternoon as the league year officially started.

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Jeudy was at team headquarters in Berea and happy to be there.

“I had heard that the Browns were interested in me even two years ago,” he said in the news release. “To hear that, and then be here now is exciting. It’s surreal. I feel like I am wanted, and the team has really made me feel welcomed.”

The Browns sent fifth- and sixth-round picks in April’s draft to the Broncos to get Jeudy, who will make $13 million in the final year of his rookie contract. The Browns had two selections in each round, with the earlier ones going to Denver — Nos. 136 and 203. The fifth-rounder was from the Panthers via the Baker Mayfield trade in 2022 and the sixth-rounder from the Texans via the Deshaun Watson trade in 2022.

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Each is a slot later than when reported Saturday because the NFL acknowledged a mistake in its calculation of compensatory picks and turned a sixth-rounder for the Bengals into a third-rounder.

Jeudy (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) gives Watson another big-name, high-potential target in the passing game. He was the No. 15 pick out of the University of Alabama in 2020 — he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver — and started 44 of 57 games with the Broncos. He has 211 catches for 3,053 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He played in 16 games last year, catching 54 passes for 758 yards and two touchdowns.

“The Browns already had a great receiving corps with guys like Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore and I think I will fit in with them,” said Jeudy, who chose jersey No. 3. “Amari is actually a guy I’ve been modeling my game after since I was young and we became friends while I was at ’Bama. I am excited to see what the future holds.”

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Cooper, a fellow Crimson Tide alum, told The Chronicle-Telegram before the 2022 season Jeudy joined him as one of the best route runners in the league. Cooper, 29, is a five-time Pro Bowler with seven 1,000-yard seasons and could have a positive impact on Jeudy, who’s struggled with injuries and inconsistency.

Cooper was the No. 4 pick of the Raiders in 2015 and Moore the No. 34 pick of the Jets in 2021, giving the Browns three wideouts drafted early. They’re joined by Cedric Tillman, a third-rounder a year ago.

Watson can use all the help he can get as he returns from shoulder surgery to repair a broken bone in the socket. He only played six games in each of his two seasons in Cleveland and needs to start justifying the Browns’ massive investment of five draft picks traded to Houston and $230 million guaranteed in a five-year deal.

The official start of free agency brought the announcement of several previously reported agreements … and the excitement that follows.

The signature free agent move to this point was re-signing defensive end Za’Darius Smith to a two-year, $23.5 million contract that can reach $25 million with incentives.

“There’s something special brewing here in Cleveland,” he said in the news release. “Last year was the start of it and I’m just so happy to be able to come back. I’m excited because this locker room, it’s a brotherhood. To be around great guys like Myles (Garrett), Ogbo (Okoronkwo) and Shelby Harris and the guys on the offensive side of the ball, too. Just to be back with them was big for me.

“I’m just so happy that I get a chance to continue my career here in Cleveland.”

Smith, 31, started 16 games last year in his first season with the Browns and helped the defense to a No. 1 ranking and Garrett claim his first NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He was acquired in May in a trade with the Vikings and had 5.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 27 tackles, eight for loss, three passes defensed and a forced fumble.

The signing of backup quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t immediately announced because he first needed to be released by the Saints. That happened late Wednesday afternoon.

Other signing agreements were released by the team: linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Nyheim Hines and tackle Hakeem Adeniji.

Hicks (6-1, 235) is entering his 10th season out of Texas. He was a third-round pick of the Eagles in 2015 and has started 119 games, totaling 873 career tackles, 14.5 sacks, 13 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles. He’s made 100 tackles in five straight seasons, including 2023 when he had 107 with a sack, interception, forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He went to Lakota West High School in Cincinnati.

Hines (5-9, 196) was a fourth-round pick of the Colts in 2018 out of North Carolina State. He’s started 17 of 81 games, rushing for 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns and adding 240 catches for 1,778 yards and eight touchdowns. He has an 11.4 average and two touchdowns on punt returns and a 25.5 average and two TDs on kickoff returns. He didn’t play last year after sustaining torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in a Sea-Doo accident.

Adeniji was a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in 2020 and has started 15 of 43 games. He came off the bench for four games last year with the Vikings.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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