After another disappointing and underachieving season, the Dallas Cowboys are ready to make some changes. The first domino slated to fall is the release of their $20 million per season wide receiver Amari Cooper. On ESPN on Friday, NFL analyst Louis Riddick said he agrees with the team moving on from the talented 27-year-old speedster from Alabama.
Cowboys are “likely” to release WR Amari Copper by the start of the new league year, per league sources.
Cooper is due $20 million in fully guaranteed money on the fifth day of the new league year, March 20.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2022
“In economic terms you call this surplus-value,” Riddick, who recently interviewed for the Pittsburgh Steelers GM job said. “This is a surplus-value move. It’s performance value related to cost. His performance does not match up relative to the cost of him being on the roster, and they know that, and they recognize that. They’ve seen that he really hasn’t performed up to the standards benefiting of someone making $20 million a year in salary at the wide receiver position.”
“And quite honestly, Michael Gallup’s coming off of injury, he’s also a free agent. They’ve decided to go ahead and shift those funds in his direction and for the rest of the football team. … But Amari will catch on somewhere else. … He just wasn’t worth what they’re paying him. It’s really that simple.”
Following the team’s home playoff loss to the Niners in the Wildcard round, a very perturbed Jerry Jones had this to say in a postseason presser.
Jerry Jones: “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 ought to be able to catch it in the middle when they’re going w/ him. Others do. You throw to people that are covered all the time.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 21, 2022
“I don’t have any comment on Cooper’s contract,” said the Dallas Cowboys owner.
Cooper’s Production Slipped In 2021
Cooper arrived in Dallas via trade from the Raiders in mid-2018, but he immediately paid dividends, tallying 53 catches for 768 yards and six touchdowns. His arrival opened up a pretty dormant passing game and helped quarterback Dak Prescott ascend. In 2019 and 2020 combined, the former Alabama Crimson Tide wideout tallied 171 receptions, 2,303 yards and 13 touchdowns. Of those 171 grabs, 90 went for first downs. In 2021, those numbers slipped to 68 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones talked about Cooper’s dip in production at the Senior Bowl. It was a forewarning of things to come.
“We’ll it’s sometimes not all on the receiver too. It’s scheme. It’s getting the receiver the ball, the touches, the ball targets that he needs. But if you’re gonna pay somebody a lot money, you want them to be the best at what they do. Whether that’s catching, whether that’s yards, whether that’s receptions, whether that’s touchdowns, whether that’s throwing touchdowns.
“I mean, all those things relate to how a guy’s paid and once you pay that player a lot of money then with that comes high expectations. And they know that. These players know that.”
Cowboys Have Talented, Cheaper Weapons At Their Disposal
Releasing Cooper prior to March 21 will save the Cowboys $16 million against the cap. If not his $20 million salary becomes fully guaranteed. The team has CeeDee Lamb, whom they drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. He’s got No. 1 receiver ability.
They also have Michael Gallup who’ll be coming off a knee injury, but when healthy he’s very solid. Also, the emergence of Cedrick Wilson as a third receiver last season was a welcome sight. Their tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz have proven to be a solid duo when healthy.
Amari Cooper: “I love being a Dallas Cowboy. I love everything about it. I think about it almost every day. … Just the aura of being a Dallas Cowboy, you can’t beat it. I want to be a Dallas Cowboy for life.”
— D4KSB (@D4KSB) March 4, 2022
Coop really didn’t help his chances of staying in Dallas, as he’s unvaccinated and missed a few games with COVID-19, which infuriated some fans and Cowboys legends like Michael Irvin.
He then showed up with Lamb to Dirk Nowitzki’s jersey retirement ceremony without a mask prior to the final game of the regular season. Cooper was never the same after contracting the virus during the season, which showed a complete lack of leadership on his part.
You can’t invest in a leader you can’t trust and Cooper’s decisions to risk bringing COVID back to his teammates while on a Super Bowl hunt basically made the decision for Dallas.
And it occurred the same day teammate and Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons announced he’d tested positive for the virus.
I saddened by the news I feel like I let my team down and Dallas cowboys nation! I’ll be back better than ever!! I’m only going to be more hungry! See you soon #lion🦁
— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) January 5, 2022
Moving on from Cooper is more of a business. He’s still a very productive WR on a level of a Robert Woods. There will be no shortage of suitors for the dynamic receiver’s services.
The minute he is released, Amari Cooper is eligible to sign a new deal elsewhere. He’s just 27 years old and has four 1,000-yard seasons under his belt.
At his best, he’s an elite route runner with the speed to stress a defense vertically as well.
He’ll have a major market.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 4, 2022
But his time in Dallas seems to have come to an end and his price tag probably went down a tad.
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