Cowboys must decide if Amari Cooper is more valuable than cap room created by cutting him, and soon - David Moore, Dallas Morning News
The star wideout’s future will be a hot topic of discussion this offseason.
Stick with Cooper going into the ‘22 season or shift that investment over to retain Gallup. That was the dynamic. The ensuing two years would give the club a larger sample size to make the decision and determine if Gallup could fill the lead receiver role.
The verdict: Gallup’s health has complicated the decision. The receiver missed seven games early in the season with a calf strain. He came back and played well before tearing his left ACL making a touchdown catch in the team’s loss to Arizona in Week 17.
Now’s a good time to point out a significant variable was introduced into the equation shortly after Cooper signed that five-year deal. CeeDee Lamb.
Amari Cooper, Contracts Cowboys Must Consider Cutting in 2022 Offseason - Kristopher Knox, BleacherReport.com
If the Cowboys need to free up some money, cutting one of these three players could be an option.
Jones did not sound happy with Amari Cooper’s inability to dictate coverage during the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. “Amari Cooper should take half the field w/ him when he runs a route...a whole bunch of that defense ought to have to honor Cooper,” he said, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota.
This isn’t why the Cowboys could consider Cooper a potential cut candidate, though. The reality is that Cooper wasn’t as effective in 2021 as he has been. After two 1,100-yard campaigns, the 27-year-old finished the 2021 season with 865 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s solid production, but it doesn’t justify Cooper’s $22 million cap hit next season.
If Dallas desperately wants to clear cap space, parting with the four-time Pro Bowler is an obvious option. Doing so would save $16 million against the cap and open the door for CeeDee Lamb to become the Cowboys’ unquestioned No. 1 receiver.
Stephen Jones seems confident in Dallas' ability to succeed without Kellen Moore.
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones spoke on Moore's situation on Tuesday, trying to show support and be selfish at the same time. "I think the world of Kellen and that's why we want him back," Jones said in between practices Tuesday in Mobile, Ala. "I'm not rooting against him to further his career. Hopefully it works out selfishly that we can keep him."
But Jones also made it clear that if Moore leaves, it helps knowing the background of his offensive-minded head coach Mike McCarthy.
"The great news is, Mike is an offensive football coach. He's called plays for Super Bowl teams and Championship teams," Jones said, comparing to what the Cowboys didn't have if Dan Quinn were to leave. "It gives you a little more safety net vs. where we were on the defensive side of the ball."
Who, or what, do you believe was the biggest disappointment of the 2021 season?
David Helman: There are a lot of guys you could mention here – pretty much all of them on the offensive side of the football. And while it's fair to criticize Dak Prescott and this offensive line, I do wonder what Kellen Moore will take away when he assesses the second half of the year. The Cowboys faced a lot of adversity, as all football teams do. They had to juggle their offensive line, and they had to deal with the loss of several receivers, not to mention injuries to their running backs.
Even still, this was an offense that had all of its primary pieces available down the home stretch of the season, and they weren't able to move the ball with much consistency. Amari Cooper at times felt like an afterthought until he asked for the ball. CeeDee Lamb was hardly targeted in a playoff loss. The same can be said for Tony Pollard. I still think Moore is a promising young coach, but it is disconcerting that he had so many dangerous players at his disposal and the offense still managed to look so disjointed for much of the back half of the season.
The Cowboys clearly need to get their star receivers involved in the offense much more next season.
The Rams latest “all-in” move may have been to add Odell Beckham Jr. to this playoff run, but Cooper Kupp has carried them all season as the NFL’s leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Opposing defenses can’t key in on Kupp because of the other targets the Rams have, as well as a strong running game. The same should have been true of Kellen Moore’s offense with the Cowboys, but as the run game faltered and passing game fell stagnant they did little to scheme WRs open the way Kupp consistently is.
In three playoff games, Kupp has an amazing 25 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns. His 44 yard catch late in the fourth quarter at the Buccaneers helped the Rams knock off Tom Brady, a milestone win for Matt Stafford on the path to his first Super Bowl.
The Rams AFC opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, are in the Super Bowl following a four win season thanks to Joe Burrow’s connection with LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase. Averaging an absurd 18 yards per reception, Chase helped the Bengals overcome offensive line issues by creating game-breaking plays down the field. Burrow was sacked ten times over his last two playoff wins, nine times in one road win at the top-seeded Titans, but recovered to put the Bengals in their first Super Bowl since 1989.
Taking a look at what type of defensive players the Cowboys could target this offseason.
Free Agency - Jarran Reed. Jarran Reed would be an excellent addition to the Cowboys defensive line. He’s improved over the years as a pass rusher, but his bread-and-butter since entering the league out of Alabama is his ability to help shutdown the opponents rushing attack. While Dallas’ defense was better against the run in 2021, they could stand to improve even more.
2022 NFL Draft - Devonte Wyatt, Georgia. Overshadowed by Jordan Davis during his time at Georgia, Devonte Wyatt’s a DT in the 2022 draft class who could be at the top of Dan Quinn’s list. Wyatt played up and down the Bulldogs defensive front during his four-year career, from the 0-tech to the 7-tech. At 6’3”, 315 pounds, Wyatt is a good athlete for his size who plays with good balance and has excellent lateral mobility and change of direction.
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