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The Cowboys were sly in leaking the potential Amari Cooper release, but it didn’t help much

The Cowboys front office isn’t as dumb as people say.

Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

What a circus! The Dallas Cowboys are a joke. Who are the clowns running this team? These are narratives flooding Cowboys Nation while expressing their disapproval of how the organization is being run.

Exacerbating the situation is the notion that the Cowboys play the game of poker with their cards facing up. It’s as if they can’t get out of their own way and feel compelled to spill the beans before they can put them to good use. The latest infraction of such is how news leaked that the team had planned to release Amari Cooper if they couldn’t find a trade partner to take him off their hands. Fans were outraged because it felt like allowing such information to leak would decimate his trade value. Why be such a chatty Cathy?

While it’s easy to believe the front office would partake in such negligent chatter, is that really how it went down? Jerry and Stephen Jones may be viewed as rodeo clowns, but this is not their first rodeo. A more realistic sequence of events is that the Cowboys had made up their mind to move on from Cooper after the 2021 season. While the exact specifics may not come out for a while, the biggest driving force of this move is that they were no longer willing to pay Cooper $20 million a year.

Unbeknownst to all of us, the Cowboys shopped Cooper, but the interest was minimal. While we may value Cooper, the rest of the league apparently did not. With the interest underwhelming, news then leaked that the team would release him if they couldn’t find a trade partner. Why would they do that?

The threat of a release now meant whatever teams were interested in Cooper would soon have to compete for his services in free agency. A new contract means a new asking price with new guaranteed money. Would he cost more? Would he cost less? Los Angeles Chargers wideout Mike Williams just got a three-year, $60 million deal. What could Cooper get on the open market?

Knowing what we know now, we can safely conclude there wouldn’t have been a huge demand for Cooper’s services, or else the Cowboys would’ve gotten a better offer in a trade. The front office resorted to dangling the only bargaining chip they had left and that was player control. The threat of a release forced any team interested in Cooper to weigh trading for him now versus taking their chances in free agency.

But the table talk didn’t end there. The Cowboys continued sharing their thoughts on Cooper into the universe for all to hear. We heard things like they were trying to salvage their relationship to how suddenly multiple teams were interested. And then suddenly on Friday, the Browns started showing some real interest, and the Cowboys front office put on their best poker face suggesting their lowest accepting offer would be a fourth-round pick.

Ultimately, the Cowboys got caught bluffing and only acquired a measly fifth-round pick in exchange for sending Cooper to Cleveland. Would the Cowboys have gotten more had they just kept their mouths shut? Not likely.

Why weren’t other teams willing to give up more for Cooper? The Cowboys have been working the phones relentlessly, but that’s all they could get? If they had gotten any real offers from teams, there wouldn’t have been any whispers of how they would release him in a worst-case scenario. The team knew what they were doing when the information slipped out of The Star, and in the end, they took what they could get.