Deshaun Watson will be under tremendous pressure to deliver in his first full season with the Cleveland Browns in 2023 after an underwhelming start to his career with the team last year. Cleveland made another move to help him succeed this week, with the acquisition of Elijah Moore in a trade with the New York Jets.
The trade brought to an end Moore’s two-year stay in New York after he was drafted in the second round out of Ole Miss in 2021, one in which he was not able to deliver on the significant promise he showed in college.
Indeed, Moore’s final season with the Jets was largely defined by his frustration with his role in the offense, especially when Zach Wilson was at quarterback. He will now have the chance to start fresh, with the Jets receiving a second-round pick from the Browns in exchange for Moore and a third-round pick.
That second-rounder could become part of the Jets’ presumptive trade for Aaron Rodgers, while Moore’s exit clears a roster spot that could be filled by Odell Beckham Jr.
From the Browns’ perspective, Moore’s arrival gives them a slot receiver who excels as a route-runner and possesses untapped potential. With him on the roster, the Cleveland attack looks to be a formidable one with few holes.
Moore, per NextGen Stats, has averaged of three yards of separation (3.4 in 2021 and 3.1 in 2022) in each of his two seasons in the NFL and may have even more room to operate playing on a Browns offense that features a receiver who last year went for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns in Amari Cooper as well as a promising and versatile number two in Donovan Peoples-Jones and strong tight end group led by David Njoku.
With arguably the top running back in the NFL, Nick Chubb, and a hugely talented offensive line at their disposal, the Browns should continue to have a productive ground game that can help facilitate an effective play-action attack, of which Moore can be a pivotal part on routes going over the middle.
Moore was drafted to a Jets team with a head coach and offensive coordinator who each came from Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco.
Now in Cleveland, he slots into a similar offense but likely with a clearly defined role in the offense. He won’t have to worry about competing for targets with the likes of Allen Lazard and possibly Beckham as well as Garrett Wilson and will be playing with a quarterback who theoretically should be able to help him elevate his game.
It is a trade that figures to put Moore in a position to revitalise his career and, in turn, maximize the chance of Watson and the Browns offense succeeding in 2023.
In that sense it could well be a perfect marriage, but the success of the union is dependent on Cleveland’s quarterback rediscovering form that could not have looked further away when he returned from his 11-game suspension.