Amari Cooper

Latest On Dak Prescott, Cowboys FAs

We heard earlier this week that negotiations between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott could ultimately lead to a franchise tag. However, Stephen Jones clarified that the organization is still focused on completing a long-term deal before Prescott hits unrestricted free agency in March.

“We want to get this done,” Jones told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram. “Things are fixing to heat up. We want to put every foot forward and try to grind this out and get a deal done.

“I know he wants to get his contract in the rear view mirror and we want it too. We want him to be treated well, financially and respectfully. We are going to have a real urgency to get this done.”

There’s been optimism surrounding an extension for months, but the report from earlier this week cautioned that a deal wasn’t imminent. We heard back in January that the two sides were close to an agreement, with the Cowboys reportedly willing to give Prescott a contract worth $33MM per season. Hill Jr. notes that the quarterback is seeking a deal that would jump Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM AAV.

“I don’t want to get into the details, but we have offered him significant money,” Jones said. “The money we have offered Dak no matter how you look at it would put him as a top five quarterback in the NFL. That is the way we feel about him. He is one of the best.”

Jones added that the team’s priority is signing their franchise quarterback, and they haven’t discussed contracts with any of their other free agents, including wideout Amari Cooper and pass-rusher Robert Quinn. Hill Jr. tweets that the organization also hasn’t decided whether they’ll bring back tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee. We learned this morning that Lee wasn’t going to retire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Amari Cooper On His Future

In 2019, Amari Cooper built off of his strong half-season in Dallas to turn his best full campaign yet. Cooper reeled in 79 catches en route to career-high marks in receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (8) and solidified himself as one of the game’s best wide receivers.

[RELATED: Cowboys Hire George Edwards]

Meanwhile, the Cowboys sagged on the whole – they went 8-8, missed the playoffs, and fired longtime head coach Jason Garrett after Week 17.

Despite his individual accomplishments, Cooper admits the team’s disheartening Week 16 loss to the Eagles sticks in his mind.

That game was so important because it decided whether or not we’d go to the playoffs,” Cooper told Nick Shook of NFL.com. “Obviously, if you go to the playoffs you have an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. We had our fate in our own hands and we blew it, so then we had to rely on other stuff to happen for us to get into the playoffs. You never want to put yourself in that position where you don’t control your own destiny.”

Now, the focus shifts to Cooper’s destiny. The former first round pick is scheduled to reach free agency in March and projects to be one of the most in-demand players on the open market. Still, he tells NFL.com’s Jane Slater (on Twitter) that he wants to be in Dallas for a long time.

Here’s a look at Cooper’s thoughts as the big date nears:

On the importance of money vs. other factors:

I don’t think it’s all about money… If you’re a highly touted free agent, you’re going to get paid a lot of money no matter where you go. Is it worth it to go somewhere that you probably don’t want to go as far as, you might be a guy like me who’s from South Florida who’s never played a game in the snow?

Is it worth a million dollars more a year or two million dollars more a year, especially if you’re taking care of your money investment-wise, is it worth that two being in an environment that you don’t want to be in? Or would you like to stay somewhere in the south? It’s not all about money.”

On the importance of playing with a top-level quarterback:

His success is part of how good I’m doing and my success is part of how good he’s doing. So I definitely, if I had to test the market I’d definitely be evaluating quarterbacks and stuff like that to see if I want to play with them or not.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Redskins, Peters

Mike McCarthy has hired several notable assistants to his first Cowboys staff, and the ex-Packers coach is considering making another big addition. The Cowboys are interviewing former Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards for a staff position, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. While Dallas hired Mike Nolan as DC, McCarthy and Edwards have a long history in the NFC North. The pair coached against one another for years when McCarthy ran Green Bay’s offense, and Edwards has a history in Dallas. He spent four seasons (1998-2001) as the Cowboys’ linebackers coach — his first NFL gig. Edwards, 53, was believed to be in the mix for the Browns’ DC job, but the team prefers 49ers secondary coach Joe Woods for the post.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • An Amari Cooper long-term deal with the Cowboys has been on the team’s agenda for over a year, and the Pro Bowl wideout has long expressed a desire to stay. But no agreement is imminent, Cooper said (via NFL.com’s Jane Slater, video link). Stephen Jones identified Cooper as the Cowboys’ No. 2 offseason priority, behind Dak Prescott, and Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk expects a deal to be finalized.
  • The neck surgery Leighton Vander Esch underwent this month went well, and Jerry Jones expects the standout linebacker to be ready for OTAs, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes. Although Vander Esch was battling nerve damage and missed much of the second half of this season, this was a minimally invasive procedure. However, Vander Esch’s cervical spinal stenosis condition — diagnosed before he became a 2018 first-rounder — makes future neck surgeries problematic, per Gehlken. So this will be a Cowboys situation to monitor going forward.
  • Former 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina will join Ron Rivera‘s Redskins staff, with Washington announcing he will be added as its assistant D-line coach. A former 17-year NFL veteran, Zgonina broke into coaching midway through the 2010s as an assistant D-line coach. The 49ers let him go after the 2018 season, his second with the franchise.
  • The Eagles are expected to make major changes to their roster, which could be categorized as aging with numerous starters either north of 30 or set to turn 30 this year. One of the moves will be a switch from Jason Peters to Andre Dillard at left tackle, Zach Berman of The Athletic opines (subscription required). Peters is a free agent and has been Philadelphia’s left tackle since the 2009 season but turned 38 on Thursday.

NFC East Rumors: Giants, Cooper, Jenkins

Baylor’s Matt Rhule is rumored to the be the Giantspreferred candidate, and although he turned down the Jets last year, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes the native New Yorker is expected to consider leaving the college ranks to coach the Giants. This and the soon-to-be-available Cowboys job might be the only ones Rhule would presently consider, per Vacchiano. Rhule, who spent 2012 as the Giants’ assistant offensive line coach, has drawn interest from the Panthers and Browns as well. The 44-year-old college coach plans to go on vacation soon after Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, but Vacchiano adds the Giants are expected to meet with him before he departs for said trip.

Mike McCarthy, however, may have the best shot at competing with Rhule for the job, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. The former Super Bowl-winning Packers coach is believed to have gained steam, per Vacchiano. McCarthy is scheduled to meet with the Giants on Friday. He’s set to interview with the Browns on Thursday and has already met with the Panthers twice.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • In Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys have two of the league’s top free agents. Prescott is certainly not going anywhere and, despite the prospect of the team using its franchise tag on its quarterback, Cooper is not expected to reach the market, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Cooper continues to indicate Dallas is where he wants to be. The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement helps the Cowboys on this front, as they could use both their franchise and transition tags if no CBA is in place by March 10. However, to fully avoid the risk of losing one of these key players, the Cowboys would need to reach an extension with one of them before the March 10 franchise tag deadline. A wide receiver franchise tag is expected to cost just more than $18MM; a transition tag would come in at nearly $16MM.
  • Leonard Williams told Dave Gettleman he wants to stay with the Giants, according to the GM (via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post). (Williams, however, has said he will hit free agency if the Giants don’t give him “top-tier money.”) The Giants made the strange move of trading two mid-round draft picks for the contract-year defensive end, and Gettleman said he wanted to get an up-close look at Williams in the Giants’ system. Of course, the Giants will likely have a new defensive system soon once a new head coach arrives.
  • Giants center Jon Halapio suffered another severe injury this season — a torn Achilles in Week 17 — but the team is expected to tender him in restricted free agency, per Dunleavy. Halapio suffered a broken leg in September 2018 but returned to start a career-high 15 games this season. The 28-year-old snapper is not expected to be ready until at least training camp. He underwent surgery Tuesday.
  • The Eagles‘ longtime safety tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod may break up in March, with the latter a free agent. But Jenkins is a rumored extension candidate, and Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com expects a re-up that would make Jenkins one of the NFL’s highest-paid safeties to occur soon (Twitter link). Jenkins, 32, would be a 2021 free agent. The Eagles have been busy with major extensions lately, coming to terms with Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson during the season.

Amari Cooper Wants To Remain With Cowboys

Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is set to be one of the biggest wide receivers to reach free agency in recent memory. A team normally would prevent a receiver of Cooper’s caliber from reaching the open market by applying the franchise tag, but it appears that Dallas will have to save the tag for quarterback Dak Prescott. Still, Cooper made clear earlier in the season that he had no intentions on leaving America’s team. Granted, that was when the Cowboys were sporting one of the most lethal offenses in the league and looked poised for a deep playoff run. While the team remains in playoff contention, the 7-8 Cowboys have fallen far short of early season expectations and head coach Jason Garrett appears to be coaching his final season in Dallas.

At the halfway point in the season, Cooper was on pace for 12 touchdowns and over 1400 yards receiving. Instead, Cooper finds himself short of 1100 receiving yards entering the team’s final game. Cooper has not reached 100 yards receiving in a game since a Week 10 win against the Vikings and has only caught 5 passes for 43 yards in the team’s past two games. Most notably, Cooper was taken off the field for the team’s final plays in last week’s 17-9 loss to the Eagles.

As his free agency approaches alongside the Cowboys slide, speculation grew that Cooper could have been rethinking his future. But, according to Mike Fisher of Cowboys Maven, Cooper has not let the recent struggles sway his desire to stay in Dallas. On Friday, Cooper told reporters he still envisions himself as, “A Cowboy for life” and reiterated “I want to be here.” Obviously, until he signs a new contract nothing prevents Cooper from going in a different direction, but it does appear highly likely that the Cowboys will not need to look for a new number one receiver this off-season.

Amari Cooper Wants To Stay With Cowboys

Cowboys star Amari Cooper doesn’t have a new deal yet, but he still wants to stay in Dallas. On Monday, Cooper responded in the affirmative when asked if he wants to continue playing for the Cowboys beyond this season.

Like I just said, I love it here,” Cooper said. “I want to be here. I just love this situation, my teammates. I just feel it’s the place for me.”

Since coming over via trade from the Raiders, Cooper has caught 117 balls for 1,696 yards and 13 touchdowns across 21 games. Through 12 games this year, he’s got 64 grabs for 971 yards and seven scores.

I’ve approached the situation like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Obviously, I’m more productive here than I was in Oakland, so why would I want to change things?

The Cowboys feel similarly, though they also much weigh the financial implications of a new deal. The Cowboys still have to address Dak Prescott‘s new deal and paying both players at the top of the market will require some serious belt tightening elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Cowboys still have the option of cuffing Prescott through 2020 via the franchise tag.

Cooper’s future is just one of several storylines to watch in Dallas, where speculation about Jason Garrett‘s job security continues to swirl. The drama-filled Cowboys will look to rebound from their Thanksgiving loss when they take on the Bears in Chicago on Thursday night.

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Latest On Cowboys’ Pending FAs, Jason Garrett

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Cowboys have made no progress on extensions for pending free agents Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, or Byron Jones, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. La Canfora had a similar report towards the end of October, and nothing has changed since then.

Dallas, obviously, is not going to let Prescott get away, and even if the two sides cannot work out a long-term pact prior to the deadline for using the franchise tag, the Cowboys would tag their signal-caller to buy themselves some more time. That would mean that the Cowboys could not tag Cooper, and La Canfora’s sources say the odds of the team retaining Cooper without the tag are slim. Plus, given that we are now close to the end of the season, Cooper is not inclined to forego his shot at the open market by restarting extension negotiations.

La Canfora adds that there has been no communication between the Cowboys and Jones, and no talks are expected before the end of the season. With Jones, like Cooper, poised for a big payday, it seems increasingly likely that the team will lose both players.

With respect to Jason Garrett, we have already heard that the Cowboys will not be firing their head coach before the end of the season, but we also heard that Garrett may need to capture the Lombardi Trophy in order to remain in Dallas beyond 2019, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network confirms earlier rumors that the Cowboys will have interest in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley if they elect to move on from Garrett (video link). Owner Jerry Jones and his family already have a relationship with Riley stemming from Riley’s recruitment of Jones’ grandson, John Stephen Jones, who ultimately elected to play his collegiate ball at Arkansas.

Riley has been a hot name in NFL coaching rumors in the past, and if he elects to jump to the professional ranks, Rapoport suggests the Cowboys could be appealing to him.

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NFC East Notes: Cooper, Kerrigan, Giants

Amari Cooper left the Cowboys‘ Thanksgiving Day game because of a knee injury, but it appears the wide receiver avoided a significant setback. An MRI Cooper underwent Friday revealed no structural damage in the knee, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. The Cowboys do not have a 10-day break, set for a Thursday-night game in Week 14 in Chicago, but Cooper looks to have avoided a multi-game injury. That will obviously be pivotal to a 6-6 team vying for the NFC East title with the 5-6 Eagles.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants announced they have designated outside linebacker Kareem Martin to return from IR. A 2018 free agent signing, Martin played only in Week 1 this season. The former Cardinal has rehabbed from a knee injury and will soon be set to make it three ex-Cardinals among the Giants’ linebacking corps. New York has seen Markus Golden stand out on his one-year deal, and Big Blue added ex-Arizona first-rounder Deone Bucannon during Martin’s IR stay.
  • Evan Engram will miss his third straight game. After being declared out, the Giants’ third-year tight end will miss his 11th career game. The Ole Miss product is dealing with a mid-foot sprain. Engram was playing well prior to this injury. The Giants must decide on the 2017 first-rounder’s fifth-year option by early May. Blocking tight end Rhett Ellison will also miss New York’s 12th game, leaving the 2-9 team without much of note at this position.
  • Long out of playoff contention, the Redskins are playing only for evaluation and draft position at this point. A player the team does not need to evaluate, though, will miss his first NFL game. Ryan Kerrigan‘s 139-game streak will come to an end because of a concussion, Bill Callahan said Friday. Washington’s top edge rusher has posted double-digit sacks in each of the past three seasons but will have a tougher time running that streak to four with this news. The ninth-year outside linebacker is sitting on 4.5 sacks after 11 games.
  • The Eagles gave kicker Jake Elliott a five-year extension, keeping the former Bengals practice squad leg tied to Philadelphia’s roster through the 2025 season.

Negotiation Notes: Cooper, Quarterbacks, Prescott

Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is not worried about the fallout from his agents’ split, according to Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News. Cooper has been represented by Joel Segal and Chafie Fields, but Fields recently joined Wasserman Media Group as an executive vice president, severing his relationship with Segal. It’s unclear which agent Cooper will remain with, or if he’ll consider other options as well. With his contract set to expire after this season, changes in his representation could complicate the process for the Cowboys, who likely want to retain the wideout.

Dallas has one of the more interesting impending free agent situations in the league. The team is estimated to have over $90 MM in salary cap space this offseason without releasing any players. However, Cooper is one of the many valuable pieces set to become free agents this offseason as well.

Here are a couple other notes on contract situations around the league:

  • NFL agent turned CBS Sports Writer, Joel Corry detailed the circumstances for nine quarterbacks in uncertain situations going into the offseason and beyond. This offseason may be poised to see the most turnover at the quarterback position in league history. Not only are many current starters set for free-agency, other teams have had impressive performance from younger cost-controlled players while veterans under contract have been injured.
  • There has been no recent reports suggesting the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott have made any progress towards a long-term extension. If Prescott needed any more leverage, he ranks at the top of Sheil Kapadia’s list of the 50 best unrestricted free agents in 2020 for The Athletic (subscription required). While doubts surrounded Prescott’s status as a franchise quarterback entering the season, the Mississippi State alum has proven himself as one of the best in the league this season.

Latest On Cowboys’ Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper is in no rush to get a deal done. On Friday, the Cowboys wide receiver told reporters that he’d prefer to wait until after the season to hammer out an extension (Twitter link via Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram). 

[RELATED: Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones On Dak Prescott]

This roughly echoes what we’ve been hearing from Cooper throughout the year. The Dallas star wants a long-term deal that will put him at the top of the market, but he’s also looking to maximize his leverage. His biggest possible payday would come after a huge 2019 season and he’s willing to gamble.

Cooper was inconsistent during his stay in Oakland, but he’s been rock solid in Dallas. In nine games with the Cowboys last year, 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. This year, he’s got 38 catches for 621 yards and five scores through seven games, putting him on pace for career highs in yards and TDs (and flirting with his previous watermark of 83 receptions).

Publicly, the Cowboys have been saying that talks are trending in the right direction for Cooper and Dak Prescott, but in reality, they have some serious gaps to bridge.

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