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.
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