Reason No. 3: Longevity and risk
Something everyone can agree on is the ticking clock that is the running back position. The running back position is arguably the most punishing position on the field. Because of this, the lifespan of an NFL running back is comparatively short.
If an RB1 is lucky, he’ll make it to 30 years of age. But we see time and time again, most fall well short. This kind of fragility makes second contracts risky for any running back, regardless of how “generational” they may be.
Ezekiel Elliott may be the exception to that rule. Built like a freight train, Zeke is built to last. Comparing him to Todd Gurley (who’s now a co-RB since his knee issues threaten his career) is disingenuous. But after seeing Zeke noticeably wear down under his heavy workload last season, we can’t ignore that for Zeke to play out the entirety of his next deal, it would be the exception and not the rule.
We also can’t ignore the number of off the field incidents Zeke has found himself in. Already with one strike against him in the NFL’s domestic violence program, Zeke stands one incident away from banishment. And as we know, that incident only has to be credible to one man. He’s followed that incident with a handful of unsightly episodes that threaten to derail his tenuous career.
Amari Cooper, on the other hand, is the perfect employee: He comes to work, keeps his mouth shut, performs at a high level, and avoids being a distraction.
Amari’s game is also built to last. Not only does he play a position that traditionally holds up better than running back, but his game is built on precision and nuance rather than just raw athletic ability. Don’t get me wrong, Coop is an elite talent who will fade as time goes on. But he’s largely successful because of his route running, his reads, and work ethic. Those don’t fade.
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Not only should the Dallas Cowboys sign Cooper immediately after Dak (I’ve always argued BEFORE, actually), but they should sign him for the longest of all their contract extensions. As a newly-minted 25-year-old (turned 25 in June), Coop is the type of player who’s built to last. He’s not going to be trouble on or off the field. He’s an elite performer who’s built his game on technique more than raw skill, and he’s only 25-years-old.
The risk is so much greater with Zeke. And given he’s under contract for two more seasons, it makes a lot of sense to avoid that risk by letting him play out his deal so the Dallas Cowboys don’t have to commit long-term before they absolutely have to.
It’s understandable why so many Dallas Cowboys fans love Zeke and want to re-sign him so badly. Zeke’s awesome. But there are so many reasons why other players should take priority.