The Dallas Cowboys and Amari Cooper aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now. Cooper, coming of statistically his worst season as a Cowboy, failed to live up to the lofty expectation of his $100 million contract. Despite fielding one of the best offenses in the NFL last season, Cooper only averaged 57.7 yards per game. His worst since 2017 in Oakland.
Similarly, the Dallas Cowboys fell short of his expectations for Amari. Cooper’s 104 targets are the fewest he’s seen since, you guessed it, that 2017 season in Oakland. It doesn’t take a mathematician to point out how one is correlated to the other here.
We can see why both sides are upset with the other. Cooper didn’t put up the numbers and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t give him the opportunities. Granted, Amari Cooper’s vax status didn’t do him any favors (and between you, me, and my cup of coffee, I think it played a enormous part in the bad blood between the two), and neither did the subsequent missing games and slow recovery period coming back from COVID.
It’s in the best interests of Amari Cooper and the Dallas Cowboys to work this out and not dissolve the marriage.
First, the COVID issue: With the pandemic slowly moving into the rearview mirror (knock on wood-plastic composite desk material), the consequences of being unvaxxed are minimized. Keep in mind, Cooper missed two games because of COVID protocols, and the three weeks after returning he was noticeably lethargic, totaling just 100 yards receiving over the course of the next three games.
Therefore what was a big issue last season, isn’t so big this coming season. And with this hopefully behind them, we look to why it behooves both sides to work this out…
Why Amari Cooper wants to stay
Amari Cooper knows, firsthand, the grass is not always greener on the other side. He came from “the other side” and breathed a sigh of relief when the Dallas Cowboys came calling for him back in 2018.
The Dallas Cowboys have recently come to discover other teams may value Cooper more than they themselves do. And some of those teams may not be attractive free agent destinations and feel the only way to get an elite player in his prime, is by trade.
Scouring the NFL rumor mills this morning I saw Cooper trade talk coming from a handful of bad teams with bad QB situations. If the New York Jets offered a second round pick for Cooper, you think the Cowboys would take it? If you think Cooper was unsatisfied with his opportunities in Dallas, just imagine how he’s feel with Zach Wilson throwing him the ball.
The grass probably won’t be greener if Amari Cooper gets traded and he knows it.
The Dallas Cowboys offense may not force balls or scheme extra opportunities to their playmakers like the Packers, Rams, or Bills do, but they still have a truckload of opportunities nonetheless. The grass probably won’t be greener if Cooper gets traded and he knows it.
Additionally, with moderate interest circulating the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys aren’t under much pressure to get this done. Sure, his contract for 2022 becomes guaranteed on March 20th, but if Dallas feels they can trade him, they can easily hold onto him until after free agency has settled down.
Dak Prescott is arguably the 2nd or 3rd best signal caller in the entire conference. If there was ever a time to strike while the iron is hot, that time is now.
Teams that miss out on their primary targets in free agency may be interested in Cooper for a Plan B. This isn’t great for Cooper because he’d like to be cut before his contract guarantees. he wants to shop his talent on the fresh open market when teams still have money – and likely cash in on a bigger and longer-running deal in the process.
Keep in mind, Amari Cooper’s current deal runs through 2024. His current contact isn’t cheap, but based on market prices right now, it’s not over priced either. Best of all, his deal expires when Cooper’s 30-years-old, meaning it doesn’t extend beyond his prime. This is a great contract to take on.
Why the Dallas Cowboys want to keep Coop
The Dallas Cowboys need only listen to their own sales pitch. No matter how underwhelmed they may be in his end-of-season numbers, Cooper is a No. 1 WR in the NFL. He commands the bulk of the defense’s attention and still produces at a high rate when given opportunities.
In other words, the Dallas Cowboys offense is undeniably better when Amari Cooper is on the field.
This contract is also just what the Cowboys need. With Russell Wilson in the AFC, the window in the NFC is wider than it’s ever been before. Dak Prescott is arguably the 2nd or 3rd best signal caller in the entire conference. If there was ever a time to strike while the iron is hot, that time is now.
With Dak locked in for the next three seasons, Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons on their rookie deals, and the O-line with two, maybe three good years left, Cooper’s contract is perfectly structured for the Cowboys timeline.
If they get rid of Cooper this offseason, they need to replace him either through the NFL draft or free agency (probably both). They won’t find a better WR for cheaper on the free agent market, and if they want to use the draft, it will take a top-60 pick to have any realistic chance at success.
Not only that, but there’s opportunity cost of using the draft to fill Cooper’s role. If Dallas uses a top pick to replace Cooper, that’s one less resource to fill a need on the O-line or D-line – two areas the Cowboys should upgrade.
Suck it up
At the end of the day it behooves both parties to work this out. They may not be thrilled with each other and they may never be best friends, but it’s in both of their best interests to keep the marriage intact and focus on the task at hand.
Even if the Cowboys don’t give Cooper the targets he wants and Cooper doesn’t give the Cowboys the numbers they want, it helps both sides to stay together. The grass is rarely greener.