Last March, Amari Cooper signed the largest deal for a wide receiver in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. The five-year, $100 million contract with $60 million guaranteed was met with some apprehension around the league.
Despite singlehandedly transforming the Cowboys offense when he arrived via trade in 2018, Cooper’s lack of consistency led some to question if he was worth the big payday. There was no denying his talent, but the lack of consistent production, especially on the road, was a valid concern.
In 2019, Cooper’s first full season in Dallas, he nearly tripled his receiving production at home versus on the road. His 52 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns blew his road numbers of 27 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns out of the water. Cooper’s home catch percentage was nearly 78%. On the road, it was 27 points lower at 51%.
After signing his $100 million deal, it was up to the former fourth-overall pick to put these doubts to rest. He did just that in 2020.
Through the first five games of the season, Cooper was on pace to be one of, if not the, most productive wideout in the league. With his star quarterback in the fold, the duo of Prescott/Cooper was on a tear. Amari had 39 catches for 424 yards and a touchdown just five games in. That’s on pace to record over 120 catches for greater than 1,200 yards on the season. His catch percentage also was right around 71%, with a yards per catch average of 11.38.
: Dak Prescott launches a bomb to Amari Cooper for a 58yd one-handed catch. ✭ @dak @AmariCooper9 pic.twitter.com/3PrP3RLjZa— The Cowboys Network (@TheCowboysNet) September 20, 2020
Amari Cooper is one of the best route runners in the NFL pic.twitter.com/vFj1oMGA9c— Slightly Biased (@BiasedSlightly) September 27, 2020
If Prescott played the whole season, there’s a good chance Cooper would have finished in the top three in receptions and yards in the entire NFL. However, even after Prescott went down, Cooper still was able to produce. In the 11 games after Prescott’s injury, Cooper caught 53 passes for 690 yards and hauled in four touchdowns. His catch percentage stayed nearly the same at 70%, and his yards per reception actually went up to 13.02.
Amari Cooper’s route running pic.twitter.com/Kq2oljzQQG— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 26, 2020
At season’s end, Cooper finished with career-high 92 catches for 1,114 yards to go with five touchdowns. He finished sixth in the NFC in receptions and 11th in the entire league in receiving yards. He also became the fourth player in Cowboys history to reach 90 catches in a season. Cooper even proved his doubters wrong about his road woes, hauling in 48 receptions for 448 yards away from home. The four-time Pro Bowler did all of this despite playing 11 games with backup quarterbacks.
It’s crazy to think what Cooper’s end-of-season numbers could have looked like if he had better quarterback play alongside him. The play below is just one example. Cooper runs a perfect route and gets himself wide open. If this is a better thrown ball, he likely walks into the endzone.
Amari Cooper pic.twitter.com/ChrST7FxeP— Alabama Diehards (@AlabamaDieHards) November 22, 2020
With a healthy Prescott back in the picture, the sky is the limit for Amari Cooper in 2021. In a down year from the team, Cooper was one of bright spots, and proved he was worth every bit of the contract he signed last March.