Amari Cooper could soon become a very expensive rental player for the Dallas Cowboys.
One season after the Cowboys sent a first-round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders in a trade for the wide receiver, it appears that Cooper will be leaving Dallas after the season and trying his luck in free agency. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported, sources close to the team say it is increasingly unlikely that the Cowboys will be able to ink Cooper to a contract extension before he hits the open market.
The report noted that the Cowboys have actually made no progress on any of their star players headed to free agency, which also includes quarterback Dak Prescott and cornerback Byron Jones. The team is not expected to start any negotiations until after the season ends, the report added.
Re-signing Prescott appears to be the Cowboys‘ priority, the report noted, and especially the priority of owner Jerry Jones. With Prescott coming off his rookie deal and likely to earn among the top quarterbacks in the league, there could be little left to keep Cooper.
“Sources said the only way that Cooper will not hit the market is if the tag is placed on him, but there is obviously only one tag to go around per team,” La Canfora reported.
“With the receiver market limited by so many top players already signing extensions, and with Prescott set to go from earning less than $5 million in four years to over $33 million a year, the odds of keeping him and Cooper — without Cooper on the tag — are slim.”
Cooper played a key role in helping Cowboys win the NFC East last season. He was one of the most effective weapons down the stretch for Dallas, catching 53 passes for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. Cooper has 64 catches for 971 yards on a career-best 15.2 yards per reception this year. He has already tied a career-high with seven touchdowns.
But Cooper has also struggled in some key games this season, including being held without a catch in a loss to the New England Patriots last week.
Amari Cooper was held without a catch for the first time as a Cowboy.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 25, 2019
The trade for Cooper was seen as a major risk at the time, with Fansided saying the Cowboys were mortgaging their future with the hopes of getting a boost into the playoffs that season. The report gave the Cowboys a grade of “F” for the trade, noting that the Cowboys were in need of too much help to give up a first-round draft pick for a player not guaranteed to stay beyond 2019.