It’s March 6th, and Amari Cooper still doesn’t have a contract. The clock is ticking as the Dallas Cowboys have some really tough decisions to make when it comes to big name players who have expiring contracts this offseason. Of course, the biggest of those names include Dak Prescott, Cooper, and Byron Jones. With the team planning on allowing Jones to hit free agency, the attention shifts to how they can hang on to the two biggest pieces to their passing game.
As it stands now, the Cowboys have both the franchise tag and transition tag at their disposal, meaning they can retain control of two players. However, should the current CBA be ratified, teams may only have the use of one tag. This could be a game-changer for Dallas as they would have to pick just one. That player is clearly going to be Prescott if the Cowboys are unable to come up with a long-term deal in the next week. So, where does that leave Cooper?
Conventional wisdom says the Cowboys will find a way to get a contract done and that things may move really fast once that first domino falls. But is it possible that line of thinking is reserved for those of us who are just being hopeful in expecting Cooper to stick around in Dallas? In fact, a rumor has surfaced that the Cowboys brain trust may not be all-in on handing him a big bag of money.
Per a report from our 105.3 The Fan colleague Bryan Broaddus, there are people inside the building who worry that Amari’s level of “desire’’ doesn’t mesh with the idea of paying him $20 million APY ... or maybe even of tagging him at $16 mil to $18 mil for 2020.
Well, that’s not ideal.
Are the Cowboys seriously considering not keeping Cooper? The fact that he could be a week away from officially hitting the free agent market certainly makes us wonder. Re-signing Cooper requires a big investment. Paying him $20 million per year could ultimately result in $100 million of cap space over the next five seasons. If the team has any questions about Cooper’s “desire,” that could make them a little apprehensive about getting him re-signed.
Not only that, but the 2020 NFL Draft class features a few really intriguing options that have a good chance to make it to pick no. 17, the spot the Cowboys pick in the first round. Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy are two of this year’s hottest receiver commodities. Not that they have to choose one or the other, but the idea of getting a top collegiate star receiver for relatively cheap over the next five years is quite the savings over what they’d have to pay Cooper.
The idea of not keeping Cooper is very unsettling. Not only is that a big gamble on what the offense may look like without him, but it would highlight some very bad missteps for the Cowboys in the first round over the last five years. For starters, you have the Taco Charlton flame out that only lasted two very underwhelming seasons. Then, there’s the fact that 2015 first-rounder Byron Jones is leaving, and when you really think about it - they only got two really good years from him as he played out of position his first three years in the league. And if Cooper leaves, the means the Cowboys surrendered first-round draft capital for a season and a half rental. Even though Cooper played well in his time with Dallas, that’s still not a good return on your investment.
It’s tough to know what the Cowboys are thinking here. Maybe all this “desire” rat-a-tat is just some type of strange Jerry Jones negotiating tactic. But then again, maybe there’s some legitimacy to this and the team is actually considering letting him test the market. It’s hard to imagine the Cowboys without Cooper, but if you need a little help, remember this...
In Dak Prescott's previous 16 games prior to Amari showing up, he threw for less than 200 yards, 10 times. Since Cooper's arrival, he's only been under 200 once.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 6, 2020
Games with 333+ yards with Amari: 8
Games with 333+ yards without Amari: 0 pic.twitter.com/3fPPTosNc7