Amari Cooper

Cowboys Rumors: Cooper, Hurns, Gregory

Here’s the latest on the Cowboys:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott, Collins, Smith

The Cowboys are fortunate to have a lot of young talent. But one downside that comes with having a lot of young talent, is that sooner or later you have to pay them all. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are all looking for extensions, and Dallas is going to have to break the bank. Prescott is likely looking to top what Carson Wentz just got, meaning he’ll demand $30MM-plus annually. Quietly, there have been some rumblings that the team isn’t in any rush to extend Elliott. It makes sense because Elliott has the most time left on his deal, but it’s interesting nonetheless. There’s been a lot of concern about how they’ll fit all three players under the cap, but Calvin Watkins of The Athletic writes that you shouldn’t be concerned.

Talking about those key three as well as safety Byron Jones, Watkins writes that the team is “optimistic they can take care of all of them.” Watkins says that the Cowboys did in fact put Elliott on the back-burner before, but that’s no longer the case. “The team no longer believes they can wait on extending him in 2020,” as he could get too expensive by then, Watkins writes. They’re now going to try to lock him up this summer as well, and Watkins does some of the math that shows they should be able to squeeze them all in. Watkins does admit there could be some possible complications, but everything seems on track for the Cowboys to be able to extend all their guys.

  • While the aforementioned four players can all expect to be taken care of, the same can’t be said of offensive lineman La’el Collins. Watkins writes that Collins “could be one player out the door,” in order to make room for the extensions in future years. Collins “is due for a new contract next spring, but Cowboys officials are expected to let him test free agency,” Watkins reports. The team’s right tackle, Collins has started all 16 games each of the last two seasons, so this would be a big departure. Although he’s been reliable, the team has never seemed too enamored with him, so this isn’t shocking. Collins is still only 25 and will be seeking a massive contract next offseason, and it sounds like he could get priced out of Dallas’ range.
  • In the same piece, Watkins also has some news on linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith was the 34th overall pick in 2016, and normally a 2016 second-round pick would be scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason. But because of language in the CBA, Smith will have only accrued three years of service time once this year is over. Smith, of course, was inactive his entire rookie season due to a serious injury suffered toward the end of his college career. Because of this, Smith will be a restricted free agent next spring. A source told Watkins that “the team is expected to place a second-round tender on him.” That means the Cowboys will be able to match whatever offer Smith gets from a team, and if they let him walk that team would have to give Dallas their second-round pick. Most teams aren’t willing to pay that price, which means the Cowboys will likely get Smith back at a discount next year.
  • In case you missed it, Elliott won’t be suspended by the league.

Extension Candidate: Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper says he wants to be a member of the Cowboys for a “long time.” Meanwhile, the Cowboys are pretty keen on him after he gave new life to their offense in the second half of the 2018 season. An extension, logically, should be right around the corner as Cooper enters his contract year, but that’s not quite the case. 

“Not now,” Cooper said when asked if he should be the league’s highest-paid receiver, which is his camp’s presumed goal in talks. “Definitely looking forward to earning that respect and definitely looking forward to coming into this year and just putting up those numbers for my team and really showing what I can do in a full season as a Dallas Cowboy. I know that I have the skillset to be one of the highest-paid receivers. I’m just all about going out there and proving it.”

Cooper, a former first-round pick of the Raiders, had an up-and-down tenure in Oakland. Cooper opened his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard+ seasons, but he sagged in 2017 as the Raiders limped to a 6-10 finish. He appeared to be on the same course – and perhaps lacking motivation – through the first six games of the ’18 campaign. Cooper caught 22 balls for 280 yards and one score before he was shipped to Dallas, where things finally clicked, for one reason or another.

In nine games with Dallas, Cooper exploded for 53 catches, 725 receiving yards, and six scores. Extrapolated for a 16 game season (while rounding up a bit), that’s a 96/1296/10 stat line over the course of a full 16-game season, which would represent all new career highs for Cooper.

The Cowboys could be taking a risk by giving Cooper a top-of-the-market deal now, but waiting would also be a gamble. The Cowboys are expected to lean a bit more on their passing game this year than in years past –particularly if Ezekiel Elliott gets hit with another suspension – and Cooper says he’s aiming for 2,000 yards receiving.

If the Cowboys allow Cooper to play out the 2019 season and franchise tag him in 2020, they’ll be paying him upwards of $31MM guaranteed over the course of the next two years. That’s a reasonable starting point for both sides in talks, though Cooper shouldn’t necessarily be in a rush to sign. With Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, and A.J. Green all vying for new deals, it may behoove Cooper to stay patient, wait out the market, and try to top all of them to become the highest-paid receiver in the league.

RELATED:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Amari Cooper: Raiders Weren’t ‘Good Fit’

After his first two seasons, Amari Cooper looked like one of the league’s most promising young wide receivers. But inconsistency followed, and the former No. 5 overall pick was never able to recapture his status as a reliable target in Oakland.

Although the up-and-down pattern Cooper set in Oakland persisted during his initial run as a Cowboy, he averaged 80.6 yards per game in his Dallas games after posting posting 46.7 per contest in six 2018 Raider games. Cooper, during an appearance on PFT Live (via the Dallas Morning News), called last season’s scenery change “necessary” for him to reach the heights he did in Dallas.

I don’t think it was a good fit for me,” Cooper said of his time in Oakland, adding that he reached this conclusion early last season. “I don’t think I was really able to showcase my skills there for whatever reasons. I’ll call it extenuating circumstances. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to reach my heights and I kind of knew that I needed to be gone in order to do some of the things that I wanted to do as an NFL player.”

I felt like there are things that I wanted to do out there on the field during the games, certain plays that I wanted to be called and certain routes that I wanted to run that just weren’t a part of the game plan.”

The Raiders employed three offensive coordinators during Cooper’s three-plus-season stay. Cooper put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons under Bill Musgrave in 2015-16 but just 680 in 14 games in Todd Downing‘s offense in 2017. He was on a similar pace in Jon Gruden‘s attack last season, with 10-, nine- and zero-yard outings clouding his two 100-plus-yard showings to start the year.

Cooper has previously said he believed Mark Davis wanted him gone, and although a contradictory report emerged on that topic, the 25-year-old wideout said Khalil Mack‘s trade made him feel less secure about his standing with the Raiders. Cooper and Mack share an agent, Joel Segal. The Raiders drafted safety Johnathan Abram with the pick acquired in the midseason Cooper trade.

After the Khalil trade, it was like here’s a guy who’s a very dominant player in this league and he’s proven that he’s one of the best players in the entire league and they traded him away,” Cooper said, “so what makes anyone else feel like they’re safe and they’re not tradable? That was kind of the sense in the locker room.”

The Cowboys and Cooper are currently working on an extension, though talks hit a stalemate last month and may be on hold until Julio Jones (and possibly Michael Thomas) help clear up what figures to be a new-look receiver market. Cooper has said he would be comfortable playing this season without an extension in place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott

Scheduled to earn $2.025MM in 2019, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott stands as one of the best values in the entire NFL. But, without the fifth-year option at the Cowboys’ disposal, they’ll have to pay a hefty sum to lock down the former fourth-round pick.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com looked at Prescott’s case for a new deal and concluded that he could push to make more than Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who just re-upped on a new contract worth $32MM/year. In fact, he hears the Cowboys have been studying Wentz’s contract to see how it may impact negotiations with Prescott and he believes that it will serve as the main comp for talks.

It’s tricky to compare the two quarterbacks, but the tale of the tape does show some advantages in Prescott’s corner. Prescott has more career wins and division titles than Wentz, so it’s possible that the soon-to-be 26-year-old could wind up as the latest member of the $30MM/year club and the highest-paid QB in the NFC East.

Here’s more from Dallas:

Amari Cooper To Play Without New Deal?

The Cowboys and Amari Cooper have exchanged figures this offseason, but it doesn’t sound like there will be a new deal in place between now and September. In an appearance on ESPN (video link), Cooper indicated that he is willing to prove his value over the course a full season in Dallas before agreeing to a long-term pact. 

Not now,” Cooper said when asked if he should be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. “Definitely looking forward to earning that respect and definitely looking forward to coming into this year and just putting up those numbers for my team and really showing what I can do in a full season as a Dallas Cowboy. I know that I have the skillset to be one of the highest-paid receivers. I’m just all about going out there and proving it.”>
Cooper posted two 180-plus-yard games (and a 106-yard playoff showing against the Seahawks), but his two previous seasons with the Raiders were rife with inconsistency. Even after arriving in Dallas, Cooper posted four games of 40 or fewer receiving yards, so it’s no surprise to hear that there’s a gap between the two sides in negotiations.

Cooper is attached to a $13.9MM fifth-year option price in 2019. Entering his age-25 season, the former top-five pick is in line for a big contract — one that did not look certain when he was struggling with the Raiders for a second straight season. With seven receivers earning at least $16MM per year, including Sammy Watkins (one 1,000-yard season compared to Cooper’s three), it seems likely the Cowboys will end up going north of that threshold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: McCoy, Cooper, Bears

Gerald McCoy spent nearly a decade with the Buccaneers, who have not made the playoffs since 2007. As a result, he is prioritizing a certain type of team as a first-time free agent. McCoy said he plans to sign with a contender, ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reports.

I want to win,” McCoy said. “I’m not worried about where I’m living. Wherever I got to go to win. … Everybody’s open.”

Thus far, the Browns, Ravens, Bengals, Colts and Panthers have emerged as McCoy suitors. The Browns and Ravens have received or will receive meetings, Cleveland’s occurring over the past two days and Baltimore’s set for Tuesday. The $11MM-AAV offer is believed to have come from a non-contending team. Despite the Browns’ NFL-long playoff drought (16 years), their offseason improvements have this year’s edition profiling as a playoff threat, joining the Ravens and Colts in that regard. Interestingly, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots no longer appear to be interested in the six-time Pro Bowler.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Julio Jones and the Falcons are engaged in contract negotiations, and these talks may well be impacting another NFC team’s re-up discussions with a No. 1 wideout. The Cowboys look to be under the impression Amari Cooper is waiting on the Jones deal before moving forward in his negotiation, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. The Cowboys and Cooper are at a stalemate presently, and although Cooper may not have much of a case to be paid more than Jones, the Alabama alums’ age difference (Jones is 30; Cooper will turn 25 next month) may bring their next prices closer together.
  • The Bears are doing some rearranging up front. Former second-round picks Cody Whitehair and James Daniels are switching positions, with Whitehair set to slide to left guard and Daniels to center, J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago notes. A 2016 draftee, Whitehair has started all 48 games in his career and has spent most of that run as the Bears’ snapper. Whitehair played guard at Kansas State, while Daniels — a 2018 draft choice — was primarily a center at Iowa. Both played well last season in their old jobs, Whitehair grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 center and Daniels ending his rookie year as PFF’s No. 29 guard.
  • Additionally, Bears backup running back Taquan Mizzell is now a wide receiver, Stankevitz adds. Mizzell is also in his third Bears season; he only received nine carries in 2018.

Cowboys’ Amari Cooper Talks At Stalemate

The talks between Amari Cooper and the Cowboys are not progressing at this juncture, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Cooper and the Cowboys are at a stalemate, Hill notes. This news comes less than two weeks after progress in the sides’ negotiation.

While the team remains confident a deal will be finalized, Cooper’s camp continues to study the market, Hill adds (Twitter link). This market could also change fairly soon, if/when Julio Jones signs his third Falcons contract.

Cooper has obviously not proven to be on Jones’ level, his past two seasons rife with inconsistency. Even after arriving in Dallas, Cooper posted four games of 40 or fewer receiving yards. However, his two 180-plus-yard games (and 106-yard playoff showing against the Seahawks) have surely inflated his asking price. So does the cost of the Cowboys’ initial Cooper investment.

The Cowboys have placed a priority on extending Cooper since trading their most recent first-round pick for him, viewing this as a better investment than taking a receiver in a draft featuring plenty of uncertainty at this spot. Dallas began re-up talks with Cooper and Dak Prescott, putting an Ezekiel Elliott deal on the back-burner for now.

Cooper is attached to a $13.9MM fifth-year option price in 2019. Entering his age-25 season, the former top-five pick is in line for a big contract — one that did not look certain when he was struggling with the Raiders for a second straight season. With seven receivers earning at least $16MM per year, including Sammy Watkins (one 1,000-yard season compared to Cooper’s three), it seems likely the Cowboys will end up going north of that threshold. How far north represents one of the many components in the Cowboys’ complex offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper

The Cowboys have made more progress in their contract talks with quarterback Dak Prescott than wide receiver Amari Cooper, a source tells Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. A new deal for Prescott would come in at around $30MM per year, Hill hears, but the Cowboys seem unfazed by that figure. 

We are sold on Dak,” Jones said in a recent radio interview. “We do want to have him for the long term. We think he is worthy of investing in for the long term. He is going into his fourth year in the NFL. When you look at the snaps he has had, the situations he has been in and how he has got here and you see he has performed, we see real upside in Dak. You don’t have it all yet. We love the way he logically progresses through a game. You see when the going gets tough when he’s got to come from behind when he turns it loose a little bit. You see him make those plays. He emboldens me to make a deal with him that puts him here for the long term.”

They’d also like to lock up Cooper for the long haul, though his deal likely wouldn’t be less than $16MM/year. Cooper underwhelmed towards the end in Oakland, but he bounced back when came to Dallas in a midseason trade. In nine starts, Cooper hauled in 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns.

For now, the Cowboys have Cooper under contract for $13.924MM in 2019 thanks to his fifth-year option. Prescott, meanwhile, is on course for unrestricted free agency after his four-year rookie deal expires following the ’19 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys, Elliott, Prescott, Cooper

With the Cowboys having begun negotiations with both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, they appear to be ahead of Ezekiel Elliott in the team’s extension hierarchy. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones confirmed as much this week.

During an appearance on Pro Football Talk Live (via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), Jones said the Cowboys would like to have Prescott and Cooper extended before the season because it is “the right thing to do.” However, no timeline exists for Elliott, despite his superior production compared to his aforementioned teammates.

He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about,” Jones said. “Certainly, he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. But there hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”

At this point, Elliott has no holdout plans, Hill adds. This was rumored to be a possibility going into Dallas’ offseason program. But it is somewhat safe to assume that stance could change, depending on how talks unfold — if they unfold — this offseason. Elliott’s fifth-year option has him under Cowboys control through 2020.

Jones said at the Combine that Todd Gurley‘s four-year, $57.5MM deal will likely be the starting point for Elliott. He reiterated that position this week. Gurley, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell changed the running back marketplace. After no running back was attached to an eight-figure-per-year salary a year ago, Gurley, Johnson and Bell now each make north of $13MM per year. That provides a better road map for Elliott. However, Gurley now faces uncertainty because of a knee injury and Johnson is coming off the worst season (from a per-touch standpoint).

Elliott has accumulated far more touches through three years (1,003) than either Gurley or Johnson, but mileage probably isn’t a concern yet regarding the 23-year-old back. But it’s not certain Zeke will have a new deal in place by Week 1. That would take this situation to a more interesting place, especially if both Prescott and Cooper are signed by then.

The Cowboys have been reported as being unlikely to enter Russell Wilson financial territory for Prescott, and while Cooper’s price point is not known, it would be a bit of a surprise if the inconsistent wideout eclipsed Antonio Brown‘s deal. But it’s clear the Cowboys want these talents taken care of early. They would follow DeMarcus Lawrence in being extended. Elliott, Byron Jones and Jaylon Smith remain as young Cowboys eligible for new deals, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.