Predicting Big-Money Contracts for Wide Receivers on Verge of Monster Paydays - Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report provides their own predictions for some of the soon to be richer wide receivers, including Mr. Cooper.
The dynamics surrounding Amari Cooper’s situation are interesting because he struggled so much in 2017 and 2018 with the Oakland Raiders that folks were using the B word to describe the 2015 No. 4 overall pick. But he’s still only 25 years old, and after being traded to the Cowboys midway through the 2018 campaign, he turned it on.
During Cooper’s nine-week run in Dallas, he, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown were the only players in the NFL with 50-plus catches for 700 or more yards and more than five touchdowns. The Cowboys also went 7-2 over that stretch, vindicating owner Jerry Jones for his highly-criticized decision to trade a first-round pick for Cooper’s services. But those nine games might have tied the team’s hands.
Dallas can’t let the dude go just a season and a half after surrendering that first-rounder, and the price will only go up if he produces that way for an entire season in 2019 (something the Cowboys must expect considering what they gave up for him). If he’s asking for projected Thomas or actual Odell Beckham Jr. money, this could take a while. But if he’ll accept a slightly upgraded version of the deals Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks and Jarvis Landry all signed (five-year pacts worth about $16 million a season with practical guarantees in the $50 million range) last offseason, then we’ll likely see a deal get done.
Projected contract: Five years, $83 million with $50 million guaranteed
Cowboys Salary Cap: Contract Extensions, Cap Casualties & How it All Happens - Shane Carter, Inside The Star
A look at some of the Cowboys players creeping up on an extension, including that Cooper guy.
Amari Cooper We all saw the complete 180 this offense made after the trade with Oakland. Amari Cooper was well worth the first round pick they paid to get him. Not only did Cooper, himself, bounce back to his Pro Bowl form, but Dak Prescott’s play greatly improved. His arrival opened up other receivers like Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Blake Jarwin to more opportunities and even put less pressure on the running game.
How do you price Cooper? Receivers and their contracts are different than quarterbacks. With quarterbacks, it’s usually whoever’s next, gets to be the next highest paid player. With receivers, it’s much more attuned to what the player wants and if the organization is willing to even entertain the offer.
Right away, we know he’s going to get at least $16 million per year based on current contracts. Odell Beckham Jr. is making the most ($18 million per year) and there are six receivers who make between $16 and $17 million per season: Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Deandre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Adam Theilen, and Sammy Watkins. If we base it off who’s at the top, Amari Cooper certainly falls into that group based on age (25) and his chemistry with Prescott and how it changed the offense.
Amari won’t be cheap, but if the Cowboys wait too long - could that throw a wrench in things later when it comes to budgeting their cap?
If Cooper is waiting for Thomas’ new deal, then it could be awhile. Possibly even causing Amari to elect to enter the regular season without an extension. And during that time he could post another great performance causing his price to rise even higher.
The Dallas Cowboys should have signed Amari Cooper to an extension once they acquired him from the Oakland Raiders last season. If Cooper does have another strong season and outperforms the Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. and the Saints’ Michael Thomas, then the Cowboys are going to have to make Amari the highest paid receiver in the NFL. And if they are already paying Lawrence, Prescott, and Elliott top dollar, then they may not have enough salary cap space to keep Cooper if he becomes a free agent.
Hindsight is 20/20.
In case you missed it...
Cowboys about to pay Amari Cooper as a top receiver, but he isn’t ranked as one - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
You won’t find Cooper on many top WR lists, but does that mean he shouldn’t be paid as such? Our own Dave Halprin shines the microscope on a test sample that could provide all the evidence Cooper’s agent needs to earn him a big paycheck.
Maybe there’s something that just clicks between him, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Overall, he was the ninth-leading receiver over the period of time he was in Dallas last year. If you project what he did in his 11 games in Dallas (nine regular season and two playoff games) he would have a line of 93 catches, 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. That would be career-best numbers for Cooper and if he produced at that level regularly, he certainly would vault up the subjective rankings of wide receivers. In fact, projecting that 11-game performance over four seasons would give Cooper 5,212 receiving yards (which would rank him fourth since 2015 behind only Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins) and 40 TDs (second behind only Antonio Brown).
Coopers’ slump in 2017 and the early part of 2018 have probably soured public opinion of him. As Cowboys fans, though, we have seen what he means to the team and just how good he can be. He arguably has played his best stretch of pro football in Dallas. When doling out money for a new contract, you pay on what you expect to happen, not on past performance.
The Cowboys are banking on Cooper continuing to perform at the level of his first 11 games in Dallas - and will pay him accordingly.
Banking on that type of production is why Cooper’s camp is hoping he can bank top 5 WR money.
Keeping Cooper on the roster has a trickle-down effect and it could help his teammate have a breakout season.
3. Michael Gallup, WR
When the Dallas Cowboys landed Michael Gallup in the third round with the 81st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, many analysts pegged the Colorado State product as one of the steals of the draft. Even with that evaluation, though, the question was just how good Gallup would perform in his rookie season given the potential struggles of the passing game with a pedestrian wide receiver corps.
Through the first seven games of the 2018 season without Cooper, Gallup averaged just 3.1 targets, 1.4 receptions and 27.1 receiving yards per game and had just one outing with 50 yards or more receiving. In nine games playing with Cooper, though, Gallup averaged 5.1 targets, 2.6 receptions and 35.2 yards per game wit four games of 50 or more yards receiving. Moreover, he broke out with a 119-yard performance in the Divisional Round loss to the Rams in the postseason.
Gallup is not a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL but has the potential to be a great secondary option if paired with a great No. 1. Cooper can be that guy for Gallup, thus opening up the offense for the Colorado State product. With that, the hope that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will open up the offense with more creativity and the versatility that Randall Cobb offers from the slot too, Gallup could be in for a big-time sophomore season in Dallas.
And Cooper is excited to have Gallup on the opposite side of him.
Gallup won’t be asked to be the lead receiver, a role that will be occupied by Amari Cooper. But the Cowboys’ No. 1 wideout certainly likes what he sees on the other side of the formation.
“Oh, of course. You know they say the biggest leap you’ll make in your NFL career is between Year 1 and 2,” Cooper said. “So I definitely see some improvements. He’s tuning a lot of things up. He’s becoming more of a detail guy in his approach to the game of football.”
If Gallup can take that leap, it would give Prescott and the offense just one more weapon to count on in what is shaping up to be a well-rounded attack. Along with Cooper, the Cowboys feature the NFL’s rushing leader in Ezekiel Elliott and now Jason Witten has returned to the offense. Randall Cobb joins the group as a veteran pass-catcher and watch out for gadget-like players such as Tavon Austin and Tony Pollard – all of whom will be playing behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines that could even be better if Travis Frederick returns to form.
The Live crew debate whether the Cowboys or the Eagles win will the NFC East. They were mixed on which team will emerge, but it’s nice hearing some positive reasoning surrounding the offense.
“I think Dallas is loaded on offense and having Amari Cooper for a full season will really help the offense.”
It’s hard to imagine the Cowboys making those same strides without Cooper on the team, so let’s not do that.
What type of record is it going to take to finish ahead of Philadelphia. To answer that, we need to have an idea of how the Eagles will perform this upcoming season.
This team has arguably a top five head coach, a recent general manager of the year award winner, and a roster better than their recent Super Bowl winning one on paper. Add on to that a healthy MVP candidate in Wentz with a full off-season and it isn’t strange to expect them to replicate the magic seen two years ago.
The reason why Eagles fans should be more optimistic this year isn’t just because of the new potential starters, but primarily due to the incredible depth on both sides of the ball this year. The Eagles feasibly have the deepest roster in the NFL considering a decent amount of their backups are or were former quality starters capable of delivering in a limited role or stepping into that starting role if injuries were to strike.
Here is his game-by-game predictions.
Who is the most underrated starter on the current roster? I’d say Chidobe Awuzie.. Sometimes I forget he’s on the team because he’s not talked about a lot, but I think he’s a solid player. What do you think? Who do you say? - JOHN PETERSON
Bryan: I believe that Xavier Woods doesn’t get enough credit for how he plays. The numbers don’t tell the entire story here. Pound for pound he’s one of the toughest players on the squad. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in the action and he’s reliable doing it. He sees the field well and reacts accordingly. Big fan of his.
David: I think Chido and Woods are both really solid answers. If I can’t say either one of them, I’d probably go with La’el Collins. It’s been an up-and-down career for him, and he hasn’t always been great. But he’s tough, resilient and gets the job done far more often than he doesn’t. If I had to predict the future, I think he’s probably going to get paid a lot of money to go play tackle somewhere else next season, and replacing him might not be as easy as we think – very similar to the departure of Doug Free.