What is going on in Cowboys Nation? Well, it looks like there’s some scuttlebutt going around suggesting that the Dallas Cowboys are considering moving on from a couple of big-time stars, DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper.
Our Cowboys insider for @1053thefan @BobbyBeltTX brought the heat this morning with @Nosebleeds1053 @ZachWolchuk, @ChiofaloSports & @rjchoppy regarding Amari Cooper & DeMarcus Lawrence likely to be cap casualties, listen, because it will floor you...@1053SS #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/urlvL99Tvu— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) February 4, 2022
Is this really a thing? It’s tough to know for sure. We do know that both these players make up two of the team’s top three cap hits for the 2022 season and that their base salaries over the duration of their remaining contracts make up another $100 million between them ($40 million for Tank for two more seasons and $60 million for Coop for three more seasons). That’s a lot of pie.
Considering the huge amount of money that could be saved by not paying these guys, it makes the idea of not having these guys around a possibility. It may be blasphemous to even think about, but clearly, it’s been up for discussion. So, if this is a real thing the front office is considering, what would be the reasoning for Jerry and Stephen Jones wanting to go this route? In an attempt to get inside the minds of these two eccentric roster-builders, here are five possible reasons why the Cowboys might consider moving away from Lawrence and Cooper.
1. They don’t think they’re worth it
It’s hard to know what the going rate would be for these players, but we suspect it’s probably going to be pretty close to what the Cowboys are paying them. There are five edge rushers making more money than Tank right now with T.J. Watt leading the way with over $28 million per year. You’d have to guess that if Lawrence hit the market, his price would be similar to what he’s being paid, if not more. The wide receiver position is similar in that the top money is just over $27 million for DeAndre Hopkins (it could be higher after Davante Adam’s new deal). The going rate for Cooper is right around where he’s at, so just like Lawrence, it doesn’t really make sense for this to be the reason.
But maybe the Cowboys don’t see it that way? Maybe they see aging players who, while still good players, just aren’t playing up to the level of their contracts? That’s not to say that’s what all of the fans see, but maybe that’s how the Joneses feel.
2. They just can’t afford it
Technically, such a thing doesn’t exist as teams can move money around to finagle the cap allowing them to keep whomever they want. So, the keyword here is “want.” The gist of this line of reasoning would be that the Cowboys just don’t want to pay them $20 million per year and would like to allocate their “piece of the pie” elsewhere. There’s no secret that the Cowboys need to be creative in getting under the cap, but there are other ways to do it than parting ways with two of their biggest stars.
3. They like their “next man up” options
When Tank and Coop were signed to their big deals, both CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons weren’t on the team. And if they were, would the Cowboys have resigned them? Over the past two drafts, the Cowboys have used their first-round pick on Lamb and Parsons respectively. Nobody expected Lamb to be a Cowboys draft option in 2020 and nobody expected Parsons to be such an edge-rushing beast. These are new factors that have entered the equation and maybe the front office feels comfortable enough with these rising stars to move away from their high-priced veterans.
4. They want some valuable draft capital in return
If we concluded that (1) Lawrence and Cooper are worth their upcoming base salaries, (2) the Cowboys are looking to save some money, and (3) the front office is comfortable with their replacements, then maybe they want to cash in on the value of these stars by collecting some nice draft picks? What would they be able to get in return? We know there are some teams who love having proven stars over premium draft capital, so maybe this presents an opportunity to haul in some picks? We also know that the Cowboys have been pretty darn good with their drafting ability as of late, so reloading Will McClay and company with an arsenal of draft capital wouldn’t be a terrible thing.
5. They have new plans for that money
The Cowboys have many key players set to hit free agency. Among them are Randy Gregory, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz. All of these players are guys who offer the team some similar contributions as Tank and Cooper. Gregory had a nice season and doesn’t have much mileage on him. What if defensive coordinator Dan Quinn views him as a star edge rusher waiting to breakout? And while the before mentioned Lamb could be the team’s new no. 1 wide receiver, it should also be noted that both Lamb and Schultz had more receptions than Cooper this past season. The team could choose to re-sign Gallup, maybe Cedrick Wilson, maybe Malik Turner...who knows? Maybe the Cowboys are weighing the costs of retaining two big stars versus keeping a slew of other cheaper yet meaningful contributors?