The acquisition of Amari Cooper has brought out a lot of questions from Cowboys fans in recent weeks. Recently, BTB member Crazy Cowboy emailed us with several questions about the team’s new wide receiver. After a breakout performance on Thanksgiving, more and more fans are feeling pretty good about the trade so the questions have shifted from “was he worth it” to “just how good can this Cowboys team be?”
We care about what’s on your mind so here are some answers to some questions regarding the Cowboys new star receiver.
Could the Cowboys procured Josh Gordon, having him provide the same type of diversity the offense needed while only giving up say a 5th rounder?
Without even factoring in the potential headache, Gordon doesn’t posses the type of traits they were looking for during this wide receiver remodel. Gordon has great size, great speed, and has a catch radius to make some nice catches, but the team made a movement to find receivers who are route-running specialists and that’s the weakest part of Gordon’s game. His lankiness and long strides make it hard for him to get out of his breaks quickly and just doesn’t give the team what they’re looking for.
When you look at the receivers the Cowboy brought in this year, Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup - they run routes well and they have a quarterback that relies on that timing and extra separation to be effective in the passing game. Gordon just wasn’t what the team was looking for.
Even if Gordon was a one year stop gap measure, they could have drafted a wide receiver number 1 this coming year at a cap friendly number.
There are two things about giving up a first-round draft pick that are cause for pause when it comes to the Cooper deal. The first one is that cheap cap number over the next four years (five if you pick up his option). The second is just how well this organization has been drafting in the first round. It’s hard not to believe they wouldn’t have landed another great player based on the success they’ve had over the last several years.
The problem is - getting all the stars to align just right to get a talented wide receiver. Are there any standout receivers that fit with what the Cowboys are looking for? If so, there’s a good chance that they’d either have to reach to get him if he’s just not quite worth the pick or they’d have to trade up to land him and that would require using even more draft capital. There is a lot of uncertainty with being able to finagle the right scenario to get their receiver and that doesn’t even factor in the uncertainty of the player himself. So many first-round receivers have flamed out in recent years so the risk is massive.
The Cowboys sidestepped all those variables and got the guy they wanted. Cooper has the attributes that are perfect for his quarterback. He’s also got the character that meshes well with this locker room. And since he was so young when he was drafted, his youthful age of 24 means the Cowboys are getting a player with a long future in the NFL.
Why didn’t Jerry take care of this issue in the offseason?
The Cowboys tried to, but they didn’t properly assess their passing game situation. As much as I love Dez Bryant, the Cowboys were right in letting him go. He just wasn’t getting separation and the struggles were there last season with Dez on the team. So, the Dez release wasn’t the issue.
The problem came when they didn’t do enough to reload. And that’s not to say that the receiving group was bad. They weren’t. Cole Beasley would be the first to tell you they were getting open and he was right. But the windows were not enough for Prescott to make the throws. Dak constantly chose to check down and the Cowboys passing game became essentially non-existent.
While it was a misstep to roll with what they had, it has to feel good that the Cowboys took action and did something about it. Did it come with a price? Yes - a slow start. But if they knew all the answers up front, winning would be easy. The Cowboys guessed, guessed wrong, and then took a chance on Cooper to be the fix. It’s early, but I don’t think they guessed wrong on that one.
Does the Cooper trade make the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender or just competitive?
When the Cowboys are playing well, they have a good defense and now with Cooper - they have a good offense. With a good sample of games to go from, this team has shown us that they are capable of playing good football, but consistency continues to be a problem for the offense. There is no denying Cooper has jump-started this offense. He’s certainly worth a first and I got a t-shirt arriving shortly to share that message proudly (you can too if you want). But even with Cooper, the offense still can be sluggish out of the gate and is always leaving points on the table. These are certainly kinks that can be worked out, but until that happens - I’m reluctant to call them a Super Bowl contender.
This Cowboys team has made a lot of progress. A lot of the things we were concerned about at the beginning of the season (safeties, left guard, wide receivers, etc.) are showing a lot of improvement. Even Geoff Swaim has played way better than many expected. But one thing some of us underestimated was just how many of these changes impacted Dak Prescott. He’s fighting through it and looks a lot better as of late, but ultimately he’s the barometer that decides how hot this team will be. If Dak starts playing well, then things could get interesting down the stretch.