In March of 2020, Amari Cooper signed a five-year, $100M contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He responded by posting one of the best seasons of his career with 92 receptions and over 1,100 yards despite starting quarterback Dak Prescott only appearing in five games before being sidelined with a broken ankle. It’s a testament to Cooper’s ability that he was able to post such head-turning numbers with a collection of backup QBs throwing him passes. But before you assume he was being force-fed, understand he posted the best targeted competition percentage of his career at nearly 71 percent. He also remained a viable explosive play threat, even without Dak, and with an offensive line that was missing La’el Collins, Tyron Smith, and even Zack Martin after the Thanksgiving Day game.
Cooper is a multiple-time Pro Bowl wideout for one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL today. He’s also, incredibly, being overlooked in just the second year of that premium contract thanks in no small part to the increasing number of sensational training camp grabs performed by CeeDee Lamb. Lamb is no slouch, and may very well challenge for that wide receiver no.1 role in the near future, but let’s not forget Amari Cooper was the one who transformed a once below-average offensive attack in 2018 into a high-flying aerial assault.
In two and a half seasons with the Cowboys, Cooper has logged 224 receptions, 3,028 yards, and 19 touchdowns. Of those two and a half years, the first came by way of a mid-season trade from the Oakland Raiders, meaning he and Dak had no camp and thus no real opportunity to build legitimate chemistry beyond that week’s game. In year two—his only full season with Prescott—he established a career-high with 1,189 receiving yards. Finally, prior to Prescott’s injury in Week 5 against the New York Giants last year, Cooper was on pace for a 1,400-yard season.
With Cooper being so soft-spoken, the antithesis of a “diva” wideout in today’s game, it seemingly lends to him drifting into the background as Lamb shines, even as Cooper misses the start of training camp recovering from a bone spur removal procedure done back in January.
Cooper is nearing a return, and will even play at the lowest weight of his career—be it in the pros or at Alabama—when he lines up at 210lbs on opening night against Tom Brady’s Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Based on his comments from camp Tuesday, he’s approaching this upcoming season with a different mindset, one he insists will help him “be better than [he’s] ever been.” Considering how high that bar has been set in the past, that’s quite the statement.
Don’t get it wrong. It’s awesome to see the highlight catches by Lamb every day from Oxnard. Having watched him throughout his career at Oklahoma, it’s hard to believe the rest of the league let this kid fall right into Dallas’ lap at 17 in the 2020 draft. With that said, don’t sleep on the 27-year-old Pro Bowl wide receiver who’s making $22 million dollars this season. If he’s as good as before—and especially if he’s even better—the Cowboys offense is in for a big, big year.