Amari Cooper

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.

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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.

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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.

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Cowboys Begin Extension Talks With Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper

Barely two weeks ago, the Cowboys had not entered into extension discussions with their quarterback or No. 1 wide receiver. They have now.

Following DeMarcus Lawrence‘s re-up, the Cowboys are in talks with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Both players are part of Dallas’ extensive extension equation, which may also involve Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones and Jaylon Smith.

Certainly if there are opportunities there that make sense, then we’ll progress,” Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said during an interview with 105.3 The Fan (via Pro Football Talk). “I think pretty much everybody’s on it pretty good that there’s some pretty active discussions now with Dak and Amari, but it doesn’t mean that some can’t pick up in short order with other players that we have on our roster that we certainly want to keep here in Dallas and have them remain Cowboys in the future.”

While Elliott, Jones and Smith would certainly qualify as other players on Dallas’ roster that factor into the franchise’s long-term plans, talks beginning with Prescott and Cooper represent a key step this offseason. Both players are entering contract years. Each will likely be a key Cowboys cog into the 2020s.

The Cowboys’ most recent stance on Prescott was a wait-until-Russell Wilson-signs mindset. With Wilson having signed his record $35MM-AAV extension on Tuesday, it would appear time for Dallas to advance in talks with its multidimensional quarterback.

This could be a similar approach to the Lawrence negotiations, with the organization — though obviously high on its three-year starting passer — potentially eyeing a deal that will come in under Seattle’s Wilson pact. Prescott is five years younger than Wilson but obviously has not proven what the Seahawks veteran has, making this a dynamic similar to the Cowboys trying to bridge a gap for Lawrence between the Khalil Mack and Von Miller prices. The Cowboys also have leverage on Prescott, similar to what the Seahawks possessed with Wilson in 2015, with another year of a mid-round rookie salary on tap in 2019.

While reiterating a view Prescott’s next deal cannot put the Cowboys at a financial disadvantage, Jones pointed to Wilson and fellow $33MM-plus-AAV passer Aaron Rodgers having won a Super Bowl. This lends further credence the Cowboys are not planning to make Prescott the new highest-paid NFLer.

You’re talking about two guys there who, between Rodgers and Russell Wilson, have won Super Bowls that have had success year-in and year-out taking their teams to the playoffs,” Jones said. “So, yeah, those are guys who are going to make those type of (salary) jumps. But I’m not concerned. I think at the end of the day if there’s any position that has to keep an eye out, not only for the themselves, but they have to keep an eye out on their team in terms of how much cap space they take up, these quarterbacks are those guys because, at the end of the day, they’re going to make a lot of money.

The bigger for them in terms of their career and what they’re all about is how much did they win, how many Super Bowl rings do they have on their fingers, those are all huge deals. And they know if at some point they take up too much cap space at the end of the day, then it can hurt their chances in terms of winning.”

Cooper is entering his fifth-year option season. He is set to make $13.924MM in 2019. The Cowboys have been eyeing an extension for their 2018 trade acquisition since trading for him, so it is not surprising to see him join Prescott early in the team’s 2019 re-up queue.

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Cowboys Haven’t Talked Deals With Prescott, Cooper

While the Cowboys are reportedly at an “impasse” in negotiations with pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, the team apparently hasn’t even gotten that far with Dak Prescott nor Amari Cooper. Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram writes that the organization hasn’t started contract negotiations with the quarterback or wideout.

Both Prescott and Cooper are entering the final year of their contracts. As Hill notes, the two players are signed for 2019, and with their agents focused on their current free agent clients, there hasn’t been a particular rush to start negotiating. In fact, a source tells Hill that we may not seen either player signed to an extension until after the draft or during OTAs.

Either way, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, it won’t be particularly easy to sign either player, especially when you consider the Cowboys’ current standoff with Lawrence. Prescott or Cooper could leverage the franchise tag, similar to what Lawrence is currently going through. If one of the two offensive players signs an extension, that would seemingly boost the leverage of their unsigned teammate. Florio notes that running back Ezekiel Elliott could also push for a new deal.

It’s clearly a slippery slope for the Cowboys, but vice president Stephen Jones made it clear that none of the hypothetical extensions are dependent on each other.

“Each negotiation is in its own place,” Jones said. “If we could get Dak done today, we would. If we could get Amari Cooper done today, we would. I wouldn’t necessarily say one has to come before the other. We’ll just see how each of those negotiations proceed.”

Following a midseason trade to Dallas, Cooper recaptured the potential he had shown during his first two years in the league. In nine starts, the wideout hauled in 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns. We heard earlier this week that the Cowboys were ready to discuss an extension with the receiver. Meanwhile, Prescott had another solid season in 2018, finishing with a career-high 3,885 passing yards to go along with 22 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions. We heard earlier this month that the team had met with the quarterback’s agent, but we can probably assume that no formal negotiations took place.

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NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Jackson

Entering another will-they/won’t-they draft regarding a first-round quarterback investment, the Giants have been setting up meetings with the top prospects. John Mara confirmed he wants the Giants to come away with a quarterback in this year’s first round, and the Giants now have two of the first 17 selections in this draft. But the owner will not force a need pick, despite how glaring the need is.

I would like to come out of this draft with a quarterback, but here’s the thing: Show me what the grades are,” Mara said, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. “What’s the value?,” Mara said. “If the top quarterbacks are graded towards the bottom of the first round or even the second round, I’m not going to insist that we take one at No. 6 or even No. 17.”

Rumors have emerged about the Giants cooling on this year’s crop of quarterbacks, but that could change after visits and workouts. They are not looking to package their Nos. 6 and 17 picks to move up, either. Dave Gettleman does not believe a non-first-round pick will cut it as Eli Manning‘s successor, so this draft figures to be critical. But the 2020 class is, as of now, viewed as a better potential crop of passers, complicating Big Blue’s scenario.

The worst thing you can do is try to force the issue and then you end up with a quarterback that isn’t worth taking at the particular spot,” Mara said. “Would we love to have a quarterback coming out of this draft? Yes, but only if we have a conviction about him. And we’re not there yet.”

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Amari Cooper showed immense promise with the Cowboys, he has produced uneven work samples the past two seasons. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are committed and ready to discuss a high-end extension. The new deal for Antonio Brown and one that may be coming for Julio Jones have not fazed Dallas, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The Cowboys were planning a re-up for the former top-five pick immediately after acquiring him, but after Cooper posted two 180-yard games (prior to three sub-35-yard showings), the negotiations figure to be more interesting.
  • The Cowboys’ glut of extension-eligible young talents likely steered them away from Earl Thomas. Their top bid was not going to contend with the Ravens’, Jerry Jones said (via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter). Thomas signed a four-year, $55MM deal. The Cowboys are still looking at safeties.
  • It does not look like Brandon Graham will be moving inside as much in 2019. On passing downs, the Eagles want to deploy Malik Jackson as the interior sub-package pass rusher alongside Fletcher Cox, filling the Michael Bennett role, Howie Roseman said (via Philly.com’s Zach Berman, on Twitter). This adds up, considering Jackson has been an interior defender for most of his career. Having added Jackson and brought back Vinny Curry, the Eagles’ defensive line again profiles as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups.

Cowboys Rumors: Earl Thomas, Witten, Draft

Seahawks free agent safety Earl Thomas is expected seek $15MM a year with his next deal, The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins tweets.

Watkins notes that figure might be too high for the Cowboys. Though possessing plenty of cap space this offseason, the team is expected to use most of that money in signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal and working on extensions for players like Dak Prescott and Byron Jones.

Thomas and the Cowboys have long been linked ever since the All-Pro safety told head coach Jason Garrett to “come get him” following a 2017 game. The Cowboys and Seahawks were in talks on trades for the star defender in the offseason but could not come to an agreement on draft-round compensation.

Thomas, a Texas native and longtime Cowboys fan, reportedly will not take a “hometown” discount with the team and is also expected to be courted by the 49ers.

Here’s more surrounding the Cowboys:

  • When asked whether the newly signed Jason Witten is a “coach in waiting,” owner Jerry Jones said that he will be with the team in the future, whether that is as a coach or in another position, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. After a year-long hiatus, Witten made a shocking decision when he decided to come back for another season in 2019. Long considered a future NFL coach, Witten is sure to make a move in that direction following what is, presumably, his last season.
  • Speaking of Witten, when the future Hall of Famer rejoined the team, it was expected the Cowboys would not take a tight end early in the draft. That might not be the case, as the team has already met with Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, The Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Though they might have interest, the Cowboys do not possess their first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade and the college standout will likely be gone before their Day 2 selection.
  • Like we said earlier, the Cowboys are expected to use most of their cap space to resign their own players this year. The team has already met with the agents for Prescott, Jones and Cooper, and are expected to meet with Lawrence’s agent tonight, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. tweets. They have not met with Ezekiel Elliott‘s agent yet, but have indicated plenty of interest in resigning him at some point.

 

Extra Points: Cooper, Raiders, Ansah, Lions, Firings

The trade of Amari Cooper from the Raiders to the Cowboys has been one of the most discussed stories this NFL season. The conventional wisdom had been that new coach Jon Gruden wanted him gone as he sought to stockpile more draft picks to completely rebuild the Raiders the way he wanted, but new information suggests that might not be the case. Cooper himself told Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link) that it was Raiders owner Mark Davis who wanted him gone and not Gruden.

Cooper shares an agent with Khalil Mack, and rumors have swirled online for a while now that there may have been bad blood between Davis and Mack’s agent after the two sides were unable to work out a new deal for the defensive end. That being said, the notion that Davis is the one who wanted Cooper off the Raiders isn’t true, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who tweets that Cooper is misinformed. It’s unclear who’s right, but it’s likely this isn’t the last we hear of this story.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was placed on injured reserve recently, and has likely played his last game as a Lion, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Birkett writes that he “can’t see” Ansah returning to Detroit, even on a “one-year prove-it deal.” Ansah is a very talented pass-rusher, but has been unable to stay healthy the past couple of years while the Lions have paid him a ton of money. His free agency and what type of deal he’s able to land will be one of the most interesting to monitor this spring.
  • There will surely be a bunch of coaching moves on Black Monday once the regular season is over, but there have already been a bunch of moves made this season, and Field Yates of ESPN.com recapped all of the in-season firings (Twitter link). Packers head coach Mike McCarthy & associate head coach Winston Moss, Browns head coach Hue Jackson & offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFillipo, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith, Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and Lions special teams coordinator Joe Marciano have all been let go this year. We’ll know more very soon, but at least a few more head coaching jobs will be open soon, with Vance Joseph, Dirk Koetter, and Todd Bowles being the most likely candidates to be replaced.
  • In case you missed it, the Seahawks are interested in re-signing linebacker Mychal Kendricks once he serves his sentence for insider trading.

Latest On Extension Talks For Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott

The Cowboys indicated earlier this month that they are planning on signing the newly-acquired Amari Cooper to an extension. However, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, the two sides have not yet had any talks regarding a new deal. Cooper is under club control through 2019 under the fifth-year option that Oakland had previously exercised, and Cooper would be a legitimate franchise tag candidate for at least the 2020 season if it comes to it, so the Cowboys have not prioritized a new contract. However, Schefter said player and team do plan to discuss a long-term extension after the season, and that Dallas is prepared to pay Cooper.

Cooper’s price, though, is only going up. He is starting to look a little like his old self in Dallas, and he exploded for 180 yards and two scores in the team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Redskins. Now riding a three-game winning streak, the Cowboys have suddenly become the favorites to win the NFC East, and Cooper — who has 22 receptions for 349 yards and three TDs in four games with the team — is a big reason for that.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk examines what a new contract for Cooper could look like, and he suggests that any deal reached prior to the 2019 season would need to include at least $30.6MM in fully-guaranteed money, and probably more. Plus, in light of recent contracts for players like Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, Cooper could easily make a case for a deal that features an average annual value of $16MM+. Cooper is represented by agent Joel Segal, who of course did wonders for Khalil Mack earlier this year.

In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are also planning an extension for third-year signal caller Dak Prescott. as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network confirms (video link). Owner Jerry Jones and executive VP Stephen Jones are reportedly convinced that Prescott is the team’s franchise quarterback, and they plan to pay him accordingly. As Florio notes, it will be difficult to determine a true starting point in negotiations for Prescott, but Rapoport says that Dallas wants to lock up both Cooper and Prescott for the foreseeable future this offseason and that the club is making financial preparations now. The Cowboys have not yet initiated talks with Prescott’s camp either but will do so at season’s end.

As we heard yesterday, star running back Ezekiel Elliott may be left out once Dallas has finished paying Prescott, Cooper, and (potentially) Demarcus Lawrence.

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