Almost everyone had the same reaction when they heard the news. The Cowboys did what? That was the mild version for many Cowboys fans. When the news broke that the Dallas Cowboys had traded their first-round pick in 2019 draft for wide receiver Amari Cooper, the disbelief and anger was palpable. The media hammered Jerry Jones for what they believed was another desperate and ill-advised gamble on a wide receiver. The names Joey Galloway and Roy Williams were brought up over and over.
Here are a few reactions for example:
A first-rounder for Amari Cooper.— Adam Rank (@adamrank) October 22, 2018
The Cowboys are your friend who pays $179 for a T-shirt that they could have bought at Target for $12.
Oh to be in possession of something Jerry Jones wants. Ultimate leverage. #AmariCooper— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) October 22, 2018
Raiders got great value for Amari Cooper. He has struggled at times vs. press coverage, I'm sure many teams would not give up a first-rounder for him.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) October 22, 2018
The headline of this trade isn't what Gruden is doing...it is by far that the Cowboys just gave up a 1st round pick for an underachieving WR that is under contract only through next year, w/ the final year of that deal $14 million AND.... This could be a Top 10 pick!!! UNREAL— Daniel Beyer (@danbeyeronfox) October 22, 2018
Don’t let the Cowboys’ ridiculous overpay make you forget that Jon Gruden found no use for Amari Cooper in his offense.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) October 22, 2018
Anyway, fast forward to now. Bill Barnwell over at ESPN put together a list of the 30 trades over the past 365 days that had the most impact. He also threw in a grade for each trade. The Cowboys trade for Cooper didn’t top the list, that honor went to the Chicago Bears for acquiring Khalil Mack. Instead, the Cooper trade was ranked number two on the list in terms of impact.
Cooper had one of the best three-game stretches in recent memory, racking up 473 yards and five touchdowns in a crucial series of victories over Washington, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Prescott posted a passer rating of 104.6 with Cooper on the field, with that mark falling to 86.8 when Cooper was on the Raiders or on the Dallas sidelines.
The division then broke for the Cowboys after Alex Smith went down with an injury. The Cowboys lost their first game with Cooper and then went 7-1 down the stretch, including a 4-0 mark in the NFC East. Cooper added 166 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games. The move seemed curious at the time, but it’s difficult to imagine Cooper leaving Dallas anytime soon. This one worked out for Jerry Jones & Co.
Impact grade: A
Jerry Jones was vindicated. Even though it’s kind of painful to go through the 2019 offseason knowing there won’t be a first-round pick, if you just put it in your mind that Cooper was that pick, it goes down easier.
Those numbers for Prescott with and without Cooper are amazing. Sometimes you put together a quarterback and a wide receiver and they just don’t mesh. The chemistry is off. Not so with Prescott and Cooper who have clicked from the moment Cooper arrived. In fact, you have to wonder how much impact this trade will have on Prescott’s long-term prospects. If the 2018 season had continued to derail and the offense had continued to sputter the way it did pre-Cooper, Prescott’s prospects might be in peril. You never know because we can’t rewind the season and see what would have happened, but ever since Cooper showed up, Prescott has looked like a different quarterback. Or, rather, he’s looked more like 2016/early-2017 Prescott.
The Cowboys must now get Cooper signed to a long-term deal. There is no rush, but in order for this trade to truly work out, they need Cooper to sign a second contract that keeps him in Dallas during his prime years.