Browns land WR Moore from Jets, swap draft picks

New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. Adding a target for quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns have acquired wide receiver Elijah Moore in a trade from the New York Jets, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)

CLEVELAND — Elijah Moore wanted out of New York. The Browns wanted speed.

Both got their wish.

Cleveland added another offensive playmaker and target for quarterback Deshaun Watson on Wednesday, acquiring Moore in a trade with the Jets, who have overhauled their receiving group this offseason — perhaps in advance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ arrival.

The Browns have agreed to send the No. 42 pick in this year’s draft to the Jets for Moore and the No. 74 selection. The deal’s completion is pending a physical.

The Jets are parting ways with Moore, a second-round pick in 2021, shortly after agreeing to terms with former Kansas City wide receiver Mecole Hardman on a one-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the contract.

New York will have picks No. 42 and 43 — as well as No. 13 overall. Earlier in free agency, the Jets signed former Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard and have been working toward a possible deal for Rodgers.

Cleveland made its major quarterback move last year, sending three first-round picks to Houston for Watson in a controversial trade. Now they’re adding a downfield threat for Watson in Moore, who can play in the slot, backfield or line up outside. He’ll complement receivers Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

The Browns lacked a player capable of stretching defenses after Anthony Schwartz, a third-round pick in 2021, struggled with drops and his confidence.

Cleveland explored the free agent market and other trades, including one for Denver wide receiver Jerry Jeudy before striking the deal with the Jets.

While Moore, who will turn 23 next week, hasn’t put up big numbers, he’s quick and versatile and gives Cleveland’s offense another wrinkle to support Watson and its strong running game.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Moore had 37 catches for 446 yards and one touchdown last season, but was unhappy with his role and asked for a trade. He became disgruntled due to a lack of pass-catching opportunities and asked to be dealt in October.

After the Jets’ 27-10 victory at Green Bay in Week 6, Moore quote-tweeted a reporter’s Twitter post that pointed out he had no official receiving targets. In a series of since-deleted tweets, Moore posted if he said what he really wanted to, he’d be viewed as selfish, but added: “Just know I don’t understand either.”

Things took a turn when he reportedly had a disagreement with then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur the following week and was held out from practice for two days to clear his head — but then requested to be dealt by the Jets.

Moore didn’t travel with the team to Denver for its victory in Week 7. He returned to practice the following week, but had no catches the next two games and was targeted just once.

Coach Robert Saleh insisted Moore wouldn’t be traded and was a big part of what the Jets wanted to do on offense last season and in the future. But Moore’s production the rest of the season was minimal, catching more than two passes just twice in the next eight games.

Five months after asking to be dealt, Moore gets a fresh start in Cleveland.

Moore played college ball at Mississippi. He had 43 catches for 538 yards and five TDs as a rookie, but his production dipped in 2022 in part because the Jets didn’t have good quarterback play along with the arrival of wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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