Amari Cooper

Trade Market, Draft Factored Into Jaguars’ Christian Kirk Signing

The Jaguars shocked the NFL world with a four-year, $72MM deal for Christian Kirk, but the former Cardinals receiver checked a lot of boxes the team sought this offseason.

Kirk’s speed profile, durability and being 25 — an age the Jags believed would allow him to grow and develop alongside Trevor Lawrence — made him appealing for the rebuilding team, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes.

Only one Jaguar pass catcher (D.J. Chark) has topped 1,000 yards since the team’s tag team of Allens (Hurns, Robinson) each did so in 2015. While Chark narrowly got there (1,008 yards) alongside Gardner Minshew and was coming off a season-ending broken ankle, Doug Pederson still expressed interest in re-signing the former second-round pick. But on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, the Jags handed out contracts to Kirk and Zay Jones on a big-spending day for the franchise. That led Chark to Detroit.

Of course, Kirk’s next 1,000-yard season will be his first. That helped lead to the surprise factor when he inked his deal, which is effectively a two-year, $37MM agreement. Kirk has been a nice addition for Jacksonville thus far, having caught 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns through four games.

Flush with cap space, the Jags decided to make their No. 1 receiver bet in free agency. Jacksonville’s draft position and uncertainty of landing a top weapon in a trade factored into this decision. The team viewed its draft position — Nos. 1 and 33 at the draft’s outset — as unideal to land a wideout that would be ready to contribute immediately, Jones adds, and it was not especially high on Amari Cooper. The Jags were involved in the Cooper sweepstakes, but considering the Browns acquired him for a fifth-rounder and a sixth-round pick swap, it is clear the AFC South team was not offering much.

Kirk’s contract helped drive the receiver market’s ensuing boom; 11 wideouts have since passed or matched Kirk’s $18MM-AAV accord. This makes the Jags’ thinking somewhat prescient. The Jags expected Samuel to score a payday north of $20MM per year, Jones adds. Samuel reached $23.85MM per annum during an offseason that also saw Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, Brandin Cooks and Diontae Johnson surpass Kirk’s contract between free agency’s outset and the preseason. The run of big-ticket wideout deals led to Kirk’s AAV dropping from seventh to 18th at the position.

Another team was prepared to offer Kirk $13MM per year, but Jones adds that squad was quickly told it was not in the ballpark. The Eagles pursued Kirk briefly but were not prepared to go near where the Jaguars did for the ex-Cardinal second-rounder. Philly soon pivoted to Allen Robinson but saw the Rams blow that offer away, leading the Eagles to set the market for fully guaranteed money by trading for Brown and giving him $56MM at signing. The Jaguars’ focus on landing a high-end target in free agency helped lead to the domino effect that sent Brown to Philly.

Jerry Jones: Amari Cooper’s Contract Became Issue

The Cowboys built an escape hatch in Amari Cooper‘s 2020 contract, and the team took its Year 3 out by trading its previous No. 1 wide receiver to the Browns in March. Only $6MM in dead money came from unloading Cooper, who remains attached to the five-year, $100MM deal he signed in March 2020.

Although Noah Brown stepped up to help Cooper Rush to a win in his latest relief outing, the Cowboys have missed Cooper to some degree. They deployed a heavily CeeDee Lamb-dependent wideout cadre in Week 1, with Michael Gallup and James Washington out and third-round pick Jalen Tolbert inactive. Tolbert has yet to suit up for a Cowboys game.

Cooper, 28, has been the Browns’ No. 1 target. After a down Week 1, the eighth-year receiver has come through over the past two weeks, producing back-to-back 100-yard games. The latter effort helped the Browns to a Thursday-night win over the Steelers. When asked about Cooper’s Dallas departure, Jerry Jones reiterated it was a financial sacrifice. Cooper, who carried the top wide receiver cap number in 2021, became a cut candidate in early March. But the Browns took on the deal after winning a modest sweepstakes for the four-time Pro Bowler.

The issue with Amari Cooper was how much we were paying him and what we could do with that money, completely,” Jones said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken, on Twitter). “Amari Cooper is a real good player. Top player. You can’t have it all.'”

One of several Cowboys to sign big-ticket contracts between 2019-21, Cooper only fetched fifth- and sixth-round picks in the trade. The Cowboys also sent a 2022 sixth-rounder to the Browns to complete the transaction. Cooper’s contract began to look a bit different as the receiver market boom transpired this offseason. Eight receivers passed Cooper in per-year salary via extensions between March and July, bumping Cooper’s AAV into a tie for 12th at the position. The other teams that traded their top receivers this offseason — the Packers, Chiefs, Titans and Ravens — also each fetched at least a first-round pick in those deals, making the Cowboys’ haul look minuscule by comparison.

The Browns soon restructured Cooper’s contract, dropping his 2022 cap number under $5MM. Cleveland may need to venture further into the void-years realm come 2023, when Cooper’s cap figure spikes beyond $23MM as Deshaun Watson‘s balloons to an unprecedented $54.9MM place.

The Cowboys, who also cut La’el Collins and saw Randy Gregory back out of an extension agreement, regrouped and did not dole out big money to an outside free agent this offseason. After passing on Von Miller‘s offer to take a hometown discount, the Cowboys re-signed Dorance Armstrong and added Dante Fowler on a low-cost deal. The team did not devote much in the way of funds to its offensive line. Dallas re-signed safety Jayron Kearse and gave Gallup a five-year, $57.5MM contract; that became the team’s top offseason expense. Gallup’s contract could age remarkably well, considering where the receiver market has gone. But for now, the Cowboys have him coming off a major injury. They will count on Gallup being a quality Lamb complementary piece this season, as Cooper strives for his fifth Pro Bowl.

Latest On Browns’ Wide Receiver Situation

Fans of the Browns may have been hoping to add a few more veteran bodies to the wide receiver room this offseason, but, according to Mary Kay Cabot of, the Browns “don’t feel compelled to add a bona fide No. 2 just for the sake of it.” 

Cleveland’s receiving stats last year were nothing short of disappointing. Their wide receiver room was headed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry coming into the season with youngsters Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones eager to contribute. Paired with a three-headed tight end attack comprised of David Njoku, Austin Hooper, and Harrison Bryant, the Browns’ offensive weapons looked poised for success.

Several factors contributed to the team’s lack of production in the passing game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield played throughout the season with a torn labrum, missing some time due to the injury and leading to starts by backups Case Keenum and Nick Mullens. A disgruntled Beckham parted ways with the franchise following a frustrating first half of the season and Landry saw injuries limit his action to 12 games. Peoples-Jones made an impact, leading the team in receiving yards, but without the two leaders of the room, his efforts look less like an impressive No. 3 receiver and more like a disappointing No. 1 target. After Landry and Peoples-Jones, Mayfield mostly targeted his tight ends, with Njoku, Hooper, and Bryant making up half of the team’s top-6 players in receiving yards. Again, much like with Peoples-Jones, the tight end room’s contribution was welcomed, but without a productive 1-2 punch from the receiving corps, it only helped so much.

With veterans Beckham, Landry, and Rashard Higgins all finding their way to the NFC this offseason, the Browns lost their entire veteran presence. To offset the losses, Cleveland brought in Amari Cooper, who immediately slots in as WR1, and the diminutive Jakeem Grant, an expert in the return game. They retain youngsters Schwartz, Peoples-Jones, and Ja’Marcus Bradley, while bringing in an unproven pass catcher in Javon Wims. Through the Draft, Cleveland brought in Purdue’s David Bell and Oklahoma’s Michael Woods II. They also signed a number of undrafted college players in Isaiah Weston, Travell Harris, and Mike Harley. At tight end, the departure of Hooper leaves Cleveland with Njoku, Bryant, and unproven projects like Miller Forristall, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Zaire Mitchell-Paden, and college basketball player Marcus Santos-Silva.

It seems Cleveland is comfortable moving forward with Cooper and Peoples-Jones as their top two receivers while counting on Grant, Schwartz, and the rookie, Bell, to contribute behind them. They’ll continue to rely on tight ends Njoku and Bryant, leaning on them slightly more now that Hooper is out of the picture.

If the Browns were able to luck into a mutually beneficial deal, they may find themselves reconsidering their mindset on a veteran No.2 receiver. The free agent market still houses distinguished names like Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and DeSean Jackson. Past contributors like Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Albert Wilson remain on the market, as well. Beckham is currently a free agent who has expressed interest in returning to his most recent home in Los Angeles, but he recently claimed he wouldn’t rule out a return to Cleveland. Former Texan Will Fuller is also available to sign and has expressed interest in rejoining his former quarterback.

Regardless of whether or not they choose to add another weapon to their receiving corps, the Browns are hoping for a different outcome simply by changing the composition of personnel. Perhaps more important than any of the additions and subtractions noted above is the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson. It’s unclear how soon he’ll be able to contribute, but the prospect, alone, of having the three-time Pro Bowler under center is enough to instill confidence in the receiving room as it is for the Cleveland staff.

Browns Restructure Amari Cooper’s Contract; Jarvis Landry, Jadeveon Clowney Returns In Play

Despite authorizing a Deshaun Watson contract with guarantees well beyond uncharted NFL territory, the Browns still carry some of the most cap space in the league. They are prepared to use the additional funds to bring back familiar faces.

The Browns restructured Amari Cooper‘s contract Saturday, moving the bulk of his $20MM base salary into a signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of tweets. This created $15MM in cap space for Cleveland, which sits second in the NFL with more than $36MM in available funds. This opens the door to both Jarvis Landry and Jadeveon Clowney coming back, Mary Kay Cabot of notes.

Cleveland “would love” to bring back both players, Cabot adds, despite having cut Landry earlier this week. Having Landry back would give Watson an accomplished No. 2 receiver, with Cooper set to play the WR1 role for his third NFL team. Clowney said earlier this month he was planning to be patient, but Cabot adds the Browns have been in discussions with both he and Landry about coming back.

Cooper’s restructure balloons his 2023 and ’24 cap figures north of $23MM, and while Watson’s $230MM fully guaranteed resides in another stratosphere compared to the rest of the league, he is only set to count $10MM against Cleveland’s cap this year, Pelissero adds (on Twitter). By reducing Watson’s salary in 2022, the embattled quarterback stands to lose less money if/when he is suspended. While the Browns have been heavily criticized for the Watson addition and contract extension, they are preparing to be a Super Bowl contender. That status will naturally be a draw for veterans.

Clowney, 29, has famously never landed a long-term contract as a veteran, going from a 2018 fifth-year option to a 2019 franchise tag to one-year deals with the Titans and Browns in the following years. Playing opposite Myles Garrett, Clowney registered nine sacks last season. He played with Watson for two seasons in Houston.

Landry’s five-year Pro Bowl streak stopped after the 2019 season, and he finished with a career-low 570 receiving yards. But Baker Mayfield‘s shoulder injury limited the Browns’ passing game. When Watson is available in 2022, the Browns should feature superior aerial capabilities. Landry, 29, is not a lock to come back, however. The Falcons have him on their radar, joining other teams in that regard. The Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster signing may take them out of the Landry running, though.

Cowboys Re-Sign WR Michael Gallup

The Cowboys will avoid letting wide receiver Michael Gallup hit the free agent market after to a five-year, $57.5MM deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (on Twitter). After trading away Amari Cooper earlier this week, this moves cements that Dallas’s other three top pass catchers will be returning for the 2022 NFL season.

Gallup, 26, will collect $23MM in guarantees, with Pelissero noting this contract will max out at $62.5MM. A nice payday for Cooper’s former sidekick, whom the Cowboys have chosen over their four-year WR1.

A third-round pick out of Colorado State in 2018, Gallup broke out for 1,107 yards in 2019 alongside Cooper. The arrival of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 limited his production to a still impressive 843 yards as a number three receiver. Even in an injury-plagued 2021 season, Gallup enjoyed glimpses of success.

This news has been in the works for a while now with estimates that the Cowboys were aiming for a five-year pact with an annual average value around $10MM, but that Gallup’s camp may possibly having been pushing for a shorter commitment. Either the rumors about Gallup’s camp have been proven untrue or an annual average value of nearly $12MM was too enticing to turn down.

Regardless, the long-term, decently priced deal is a strong commitment to Gallup after he only played in nine games of his contract year due to a Week 1 calf injury and a season-ending ACL tear in Week 16. The contract seems to indicate that the Cowboys are confident in the medical information they are receiving on Gallup’s recovery.

With decisions made on Cooper and Gallup, and the franchise tag placed on Dalton Schultz, Dallas can focus its attention on the litany of other impact players set to hit the free agent market this week like Randy Gregory, Connor Williams, Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson.

Browns To Acquire WR Amari Cooper From Cowboys

Amari Cooper is heading to Cleveland. The Browns are trading for the Cowboys wide receiver, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), Cleveland is trading 2022 fifth- and sixth-round picks to Dallas for Cooper and a sixth-round pick. Josina Anderson was first with the news (on Twitter) that the two teams were zeroing in on a trade. This move clears $16MM in cap space for the Cowboys while arming the Browns with a Pro Bowl receiver in his prime.

The Jaguars, Dolphins and Jets also pursued Cooper, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones. Given the modest return the Cowboys are collecting, the other AFC teams’ offers did not appear to impress Dallas. Had the Cowboys cut Cooper,’s Dianna Russini adds he was not expected to garner a similar contract on the open market (Twitter link). This ends a four-season partnership between Cooper and the Cowboys, who traded their 2019 first-round pick to acquire the ex-Raider ahead of the 2018 deadline.

Cooper landed on the trade block this time because of his contract, which calls for $20MM base salaries from 2022-24. That said, none of that money is guaranteed for the Browns, making this a similar arrangement to their previous big-ticket wide receiver trade.

Wideout did not reside especially highly among the Browns’ needs for a bit, but the team could not establish a fit with Odell Beckham Jr., leading to a messy separation. Cleveland’s latest marquee wide receiver trade has proven far less costly. It cost the team a first-round pick and Jabrill Peppers to acquire Beckham in 2019, and the Giants had recently given Beckham a monster extension. The Cowboys handed Cooper a five-year, $100MM deal in 2020 but made it known this week they were planning to move on from him, limiting the compensation.

Despite having been in the NFL since 2015, Cooper is still just 27. His high salary aside, the former Alabama target will be a welcome addition for a Browns team leaning toward — per the bulk of this offseason’s reports — giving Baker Mayfield another opportunity. (That said, the Browns have also been linked to Derek Carr, which is now a bit more interesting with Cooper in the fold.) The Browns ended their season thin at receiver, and Jarvis Landry is not a lock to return. Landry, 29, has fallen off his Pro Bowl pace in recent years, though he did aid the Browns’ playoff push after Beckham’s 2020 ACL tear.

Cooper provided vital assistance to Dak Prescott, with the Cowboys turning their 2018 season around after his midseason arrival. The former No. 5 overall pick is one of the NFL’s best route runners. He topped 1,100 yards in both 2019 and ’20, doing so in the latter year despite Prescott’s early-season injury. Overall, Cooper is 5-for-7 in 1,000-yard seasons. His presence freed up opportunities for CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz last season, but Dallas will go with its cheaper cogs moving forward. The team is also trying to lock down Michael Gallup to a lower-cost extension.

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper Generating Trade Interest

Amari Cooper may not hit free agency after all. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram reports (via Twitter) that there is a “real trade market” for the wide receiver. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that five teams have discussed Cooper’s availability “in a potential trade or release.”

This runs counter to what we heard earlier this week. While the Cowboys were “likely” to release the receiver, they were still hoping to trade him…but there were reports indicating that the Cowboys weren’t receiving a whole lot of interest. One team source cited Cooper’s hefty contract, which runs through 2024 and carries a $22MM cap number for this season, as the main reason why they wouldn’t deal for him.

However, today’s report indicates that teams may be rethinking their stance. Cooper’s contract does provide some year-to-year flexibility; if an organization is wiling to tolerate his $20MM salary in 2022, they could move on from him in 2023 with just a $4MM cap hit to show for it. The receiver inked a five-year, $100MM contract with the Cowboys in 2020.

Teams also might be wary of their ability to attract Cooper if he does indeed hit free agency. According to Mary Kay Cabot of, the veteran receiver may want to return home to Miami and play for the Dolphins if the opportunity presents itself. So, if another team has Cooper high on their list, their only option may be to acquire him via trade.

Dolphins Set To Be Aggressive In Upgrading Offense

Changes to the Dolphins’ offense have already begun on the sidelines, principally with the hiring of Mike McDaniel as head coach. On the field, the team is preparing to add significant pieces to the unit, according to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe (video link). 

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In 2021, the team ranked 22nd in the league in points and 26th in yards, so there is certainly room for improvement in addition to developing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Wolfe names Amari Cooper as someone the team is “watching closely” in the event he is cut from the Cowboys. Given the lack of teams interested in trading for the four-time Pro Bowler – and taking on the weighty cap hit his contract carries as a result – it seems likely he will be released.

If that happens, Miami will certainly have competition to land such an accomplished wideout. With more than $50MM of unused space, however, the team will certainly have the spending power to offer Cooper a deal that would at least be close to what he would have made with the Cowboys. In any event, Wolfe notes that the Dolphins are looking to add a third impact piece to their pass-catching corps, in addition to Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki.

With that said, Wolfe names the offensive line as the team’s “top priority”. With the potential for upgrades existing across the front, the team is looking at free agents at each position. Chief among those is tackle Terron Armstead; perhaps the top free agent of any kind this year, the Dolphins would, like with Cooper, need to win a bidding war for his services. Interior options they are watching reportedly include guard Laken Tomlinson and center Ryan Jensen, other established veterans who would help in both run blocking and pass protection.

Whether along the offensive line or amongst skill-position options, the Dolphins are set up to make at least one notable signing next week. Who that will be – and what further moves the team makes – will certainly be worth keeping an eye on in the coming days.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Amari Cooper Not Drawing Trade Interest

When attached to his rookie contract, Amari Cooper commanded a first-round pick in a trade. The Cowboys, who sent the Raiders their 2019 first ahead of the 2018 deadline, are not seeing nearly as much interest now that Cooper is tethered to a high-end receiver deal.

The Cowboys will try to trade Cooper, Ian Rapoport of notes, but the veteran wideout has not drawn much interest. Even with teams having known the pricey wideout’s availability for weeks now,’s Charles Robinson notes teams are not lining up to acquire his current contract (Twitter links). Cooper’s deal runs through 2024 and carries a $22MM cap number for this season. One receiver-needy team informed Robinson it has no interest in Cooper at this price. If no reasonable trade offer emerges, the Cowboys intend to cut Cooper.

In recent years, the draft has begun to provide teams with quality value at receiver, with the past few classes being flush with pass-catching help. With those rookies tied to low-cost deals for at least three seasons, value for players like Cooper — who signed a five-year, $100MM deal in 2020 — diminishes.

The Cowboys moving Cooper off their roster before March 20 saves them $16MM, funds that could be allocated to some of the team’s impending free agents. Cooper’s $20MM base salary becomes fully guaranteed on that fifth day of the 2022 league year. The team is interested in retaining Dalton Schultz, and Robinson adds it weighed Cooper’s cost with the ability to keep Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson and potentially Randy Gregory (Twitter links). Wilson, Gallup’s injury replacement in 2021, joins Gallup and Gregory in being on track for free agency. To go through with this plan, the Cowboys ($13.4MM over the cap) will need to make more moves to free up space.

Gallup potentially being available at a slight discount due to his ACL tear benefits the Cowboys, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, potentially factoring into the team’s plan. Retaining Gallup would be a cheaper option than keeping Cooper, though losing the latter would stand to put more pressure on CeeDee Lamb, who has benefited from defenses’ attention to Cooper. The Cooper-or-Gallup long-term choice has been on the team’s radar for a while now, and it appears a decision has been made.

Despite having played seven seasons, Cooper is just 27. He would certainly draw extensive interest on the open market. The prospect of the Packers franchise-tagging Davante Adams and the Buccaneers using a second tag on Chris Godwin would enhance Cooper’s value, if the Cowboys indeed release him. Cooper is a four-time Pro Bowler who has posted five 1,000-yard seasons.