Amari Cooper’s contract will now loom over the Cowboys

AP

The Cowboys have justified the decision to give up a first-round pick for receiver Amari Cooper by arguing that the deal for the 24-year-old simulates the use of a first-round pick on a rookie receiver.

There’s one major flaw in that logic. As of March, Cooper will have a fully-guaranteed salary in 2019 of $13.924 million. If the Cowboys had selected former Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley with the 19th pick in the 2018 draft, they would have had his services for four years, $11.8 million.

Apart from whether Cooper’s performances over the past two years justify giving up a first-round pick, the Cowboys eventually may have to justify the draft-pick investment by making a significant financial investment. And the structure of the financial investment will be the 2019 or 2020 equivalent of the contract given several years ago to Dez Bryant.

If the Cowboys decide after the season to approach Cooper about an extension, his response will (or at least should) be simple: Give me $13.924 million for 2019 and a 20-percent raise for 2020 ($16.7 million), which equates to more than $30.6 million, fully guaranteed at signing. If the Cowboys decide to see how 2019 goes, the price for 2020 becomes, at a minimum, $16.7 million for 2020 and a 20-percent raise ($20 million) for 2021. That’s $36.7 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Absent a deal like that, Cooper could simply opt to go year to year under the tag. Or he could hold out (his agent, Joel Segal, engineered the Khalil Mack showdown in Oakland) and possibly force another trade.

Of course, Cooper isn’t in Mack’s league. And that’s what will make the situation so dicey for the Cowboys. In exchange for a first-round pick, they have his services for a season and a half. Beyond that, the only way to keep him off the open market will be to tag him or to sign him to a long-term deal that simulates multiple seasons of the franchise tag, regardless of whether his performance objectively merits it.

53 responses to “Amari Cooper’s contract will now loom over the Cowboys

  1. Firstly, can we stop with the whole 20% raise/franchise tag dominating how every contract works thing. I really doubt the franchise tag is going to dominate how his contract is structured.

    Secondly, the Cowboys have a massive amount of cap space starting in 2019 – even though some of it will inevitably become filled by other players, there will still be plenty left budgeted for a #1 WR.

    Thirdly, you don’t trade a 1st round pick for a player on a soon-to-be expiring contract unless you feel at least 95% sure you want him for longer than that. If it really “looms over the team”, then they’ve probably fallen into that 5% scenario where he suffers a catastrophic injury, commits a felony, etc.

    The contracts “looming over the Cowboys” are the ones for DeMarcus Lawrence (obviously, by far) and the one for Dak. You could argue that other players “loom over” the team even more than Cooper. Jerry would never admit defeat almost immediately on this kind of an acquisition. He’s going to be signed.

  2. Mike, why do you feel that every player at the end of his contract is worth the franchise tag amount???? I don’t believe Cooper has come anywhere close to deserving that kind of $$$$$.

  3. The acquisition of Cooper is more of a test to see if they need to invest money into Dak. Dak can’t use the excuse that he doesn’t have talent around him. If Dak isn’t the answer, then that frees up money to invest elsewhere.

  4. Coop is a great guy on the field and in the locker room, a completely opposite person from Dez.

    Maybe THAT is worth the money.

    And that he’s faster than fez 8 days a week.

  5. Dislike both teams and that’s saying it nicely but, the Raiders got a 1st round pick for a WR that was under utilized and lost his confidence with Oakland.

    Dallas will probably get the Cooper that initially showed his first round talent and playmaking ability from his first two seasons.

    I still believe Cooper can play. He’s only 24 and he didn’t just forget how to play football

  6. AMARI COOPER is better than what would be on the market next year via FA and pretty sure he will be better than any 1st round WR coming out next year. VANDER ESCH is someone not to look over…LB was about the biggest need Cowboys have with Sean Lee always injured

  7. kid is the same age as Ridley. Cooper is already a seasoned 2x pro bowl player and is going to help this team out tremendously. He doesn’t have to be the savior. He is the final piece of the puzzle. The defense is there. The Offense is there. Everything falls on Dak and the play calling. Cooper also serves as a decoy while Beasley and Zeke finally get some heat off of them. Dallas beat Philly to Cooper. Dallas undermined Philly the same way Philly undermined Dallas in the draft. Season is very young. No more excuses!

  8. Great trades by McKenzie. It did two things, it cleaned up the salary cap in future years and got round 1 draft picks. It’s the way to go when you want to reshape a roster. Perfect example, Cooper costs 6.8 million towards 2018 salary cap for the Raiders and 412,000 against the Cowboys salary cap. Next year, the Cowboys pay Cooper 13.94 million dollar contract if he makes the team. It’s not guaranteed hence no dead cap.

  9. For once I agree with Mike Florio. This is a terrible deal for Dallas. Comparing Cooper to a player drafted in the 2019 first round is apples to oranges. The salary cap hit affects the whole team adversely.

  10. So let’s take a look at what’s changed for Cooper after this deal.

    #1)Terrible qb who wears 4..nope that didn’t change.
    #2)Bafoon owner..no no no change there either
    #3)Awful coach..still nothing g different
    Ahhhaaaa…I know his uniform colors, or just one color. Instead of silver and black it’ll be silver and blue. Wow. That’s a great move for Cooper
    He sucks. His old team sucks. His new team sucks. End of story

  11. No one knows what his future level of play will be in Dallas but based on past performance, giving up a first rounder was a huge overpay in my opinion. Second, giving up a first for a guy nearly at the end of his rookie deal is financial mismanagement, again in my opinion. Not a fan of either Raiders or Cowboys.

  12. This argument would be true of a free agent acquisition too. I would say that a rookie deal looms larger if they performed well because then a huge contract is required. If Cooper doesn’t pan out you just let him walk. So really the numbers are in Dallas’ favre.

  13. yetipro says:
    October 23, 2018 at 10:17 pm
    ..the Cowboys have a massive amount of cap space starting in 2019..
    ——————–
    No, they don’t, and won’t. They’re currently just ($5M) above league average in space ($48) for next year (by comparison Colts will have $125M). But this is often just a figment of hiring cycles and Cowboys have a bunch of guys going into FA and they’ll want to keep some. AND FAR, FAR, MORE IMPORTANTLY, Dak Prescott’s contract is up in 2020 but the team will structure an extension in 2019 that will be silly big numbers like QB contracts are these days, plus a big signing bonus. Once you take those factors, Dallas will not have a lot of cap to play with.

  14. My guess is the Cowboys, like most fans, had no idea of the financial considerations here. If they had, they might have been able to get Cooper for a 5th round pick just for taking that awful contract off the Raiders hands.

  15. Paying $18M per year with $70M+ in guarantees for maybe the 50th best receiver in the league is not a winning strategy.

  16. The Cowboys side of this trade is laughably bad, the Raiders really did fleece them.

    Consider Jerry Jones and the cap for a moment. IMO, he will ruin the NFL if the cap is ever loosened or eliminated. The NFL will become MLB where the moneyed teams have all the best players and are, duh, the best teams.

  17. Dropkick67 says:
    October 24, 2018 at 6:17 am
    The Pat would trade Bryan Hoyer for Carr!

    —————-

    Maybe if the Raiders would agree to continue paying Carr’s salary they would….otherwise few teams will want Carr and his current contract

  18. Agree, NHPats, on the Pats and Carr. There’s no way they’d take on a stupid contract like that and cripple themselves. It will be interesting to see how they replace TB12 when he retires in 2028.

  19. They aren’t inheriting a bad contract that the Raiders signed. It’s the 5th year option on a first round draft pick. Turns out it was pretty sharp of them to exercise that option. It’s the leverage they had in getting a 1 round pick. They would not have been able to trade him for a first rounder if he was a free agent at the end of the year. It is the first decent decision the boneheaded in Oakland have made. If it turns out that he is great in Dallas they win too. If not they blew a first rounder. I guess we will see. Cooper is a good kid with talent. Maybe, like many other Raider players, he gets in a new environment and plays better. I would not be shocked.

  20. With all the mess that’s going on in Oakland no one is talking about the fact that this was actually an awesome deal for them. The numbers don’t lie – Cooper has been pretty terrible. He’s going to have a hard time paying off $13.5 mil in Dallas…if they re-sign him…

  21. All the phony tough guy faces in the world won’t help you win games. Let’s see what a full squad of Gruden Grinders really amounts to in this league.

  22. jerrysglassescleaner says:
    October 24, 2018 at 2:10 am
    kid is the same age as Ridley. Cooper is already a seasoned 2x pro bowl player and is going to help this team out tremendously. He doesn’t have to be the savior. He is the final piece of the puzzle.
    ==================================
    Final piece of the puzzle? Have you forgotten who coaches that team?

  23. Agree, Our first rounder was going to WR regardless, Cooper is head and shoulders better and proven in the NFL then anyone coming out of college. And Our first rounder this year the LB Vanderesh is a stud and was a need pick! We have More cap space then needed to keep whom we please, I do not see Dak breaking the bank as only top 5 QB’s get that, and Byron Jones wont break the bank as he will be offered a very good deal or we will let him walk. We wont break the bank on him just because he had ONE good year. DLAW IF he repeats as THE STUD then will get his max contract. Zeke will get a very good deal offered but will NOT get paid no 16 mil per for a RB (see murray). All deals are very doable.
    THE BEST PART OF THE TRADE, NO MORE SEEING 10 MEN IN THE BOX TO STOP ZEKE! WE HAVE BEEN IN EVERY GAME THIS YEAR, THE RECORD COULD EAISLY BE 6-1 ! LETS JUST HOPE COOPER AND DAK CAN GEL VERY QUICKLY!

  24. I find it comical that fans think every player automatically is worth the 20% salary bump brought on by the franchise tag. If that was the case, the NFL would have been out of business years ago.

    I sometimes wonder if GMs read the news about how other teams have made a terrible decision on a contract by over paying for someone and think to themselves “yeah, but I’d never do that…” – obviously some of them are because we get stories every year about teams trying to get OUT from under bad contracts.

  25. It’s truly comical that Cowboys homers see an up side here. Cooper was traded and immediately rejected contract negotiation/extension. At the end of next season when Cooper hits the market, the Cowboys are going to realize how dumb this move was.

    PS- the problem is Dak, not the WRs.

  26. streetyson says:
    October 24, 2018 at 6:12 am
    yetipro says:
    October 23, 2018 at 10:17 pm
    ..the Cowboys have a massive amount of cap space starting in 2019..
    ——————–
    No, they don’t, and won’t. They’re currently just ($5M) above league average in space ($48) for next year (by comparison Colts will have $125M). But this is often just a figment of hiring cycles and Cowboys have a bunch of guys going into FA and they’ll want to keep some. AND FAR, FAR, MORE IMPORTANTLY, Dak Prescott’s contract is up in 2020 but the team will structure an extension in 2019 that will be silly big numbers like QB contracts are these days, plus a big signing bonus. Once you take those factors, Dallas will not have a lot of cap to play with.

    ————–

    Dallas is at $50 WITH Cooper already accounted for. In addition, they will carry a little over 10 million from this year. That brings them to $60M… There is plenty of money there to pay whoever they want and then some. They control Zeke and Dak next year, Zeke the year after that and Dak if they want to. There really is not problem there… But please keep creating issues if you would like. Not to mention cutting Sean Lee would save them $8M, they already drafted his replacement. Well, if Vander Esch isn’t his replacement then that was the worst move with a first rounder. That puts them at $68M, again AFTER Cooper is accounted for. You can actually sign Cooper to an extension and bring his number down from the 18.5 to probably around 14, giving them 72M…. See how easy it is to manipulate the numbers. And oh yeah, IF Dak’s numbers don’t improve he won’t sign for 30 a year like these other QB’s. He is worth what he can get on the market. Maybe 20 but again there is plenty of room there for it.

  27. Great deal for Dallas. They get Cooper for the rest of the season for 412K and a first round draft pick. Depending on Cooper’s salary demands and how he plays the rest of the year, Dallas can keep him or trade him to recoup draft pick(s).

  28. jerrysglassescleaner says:
    kid is the same age as Ridley. Cooper is already a seasoned 2x pro bowl player. He is the final piece of the puzzle.

    Yeah, he was good 3 or 4 yrs ago. That’s a lifetime in the NFL. The last two years he’s been mediocre at best. As far as puzzle pieces, not having a franchise QB is a pretty big missing piece.

    calizcowboyz says:
    Cooper is head and shoulders better and proven in the NFL then anyone coming out of college. THEIR RECORD COULD EAISLY BE 6-1!

    Maybe… if you’re only comparing to projected #2 WRs coming out. Could have had Ridley (and much better production) this year for four more yrs for $2 Million less than you’re going to pay Cooper for one year in 2019. LOL. 220 yds / 1 TD vs 392 yds / 6 TDs this year so far. LOL.

    As far as your EAISLY dreams, you are, as Bill Parcels said, what your record SAYS you are; that is, a team with a LOSING record.

    You just have to laugh at these delusional cowfans. They haven’t been relevant for 20 yrs and yet they always think they’re just on the verge of being, when in fact, they’re just mediocre.

  29. I have a new prospective on this trade, after my initial knee-jerk negative reaction. We bring in Cooper, a young, 2x pro bowler, to probably complement Gallup. It’s called “documentation”, that we have added a desperately needed piece for Dak. This is done, before Dak should get a new contract. If Dak does not improve in SO many areas, they have saved face, when they get a new q/b. He now has no excuses!!!! What they are so utterly blind about, is we have no coaches who can coach up Dak. History has proven that, based on the number of q/bs they have “tried” to coach, not named Tony Romo!

  30. I could see a 2nd & a 3rd for him. Two 2nd’s even.

    But to NOT HAVE a pick in the 1st next year, that blows.

  31. razzlejag says:
    October 24, 2018 at 8:21 am
    The Cowboys side of this trade is laughably bad, the Raiders really did fleece them.

    Consider Jerry Jones and the cap for a moment. IMO, he will ruin the NFL if the cap is ever loosened or eliminated. The NFL will become MLB where the moneyed teams have all the best players and are, duh, the best teams.

    —————————————————————————————
    You do know that there’s a Luxury tax cost for baseball teams that exceed a certain limit which was put in years ago. So no the Yankees can’t buy the world series anymore like they
    use to, So your point is lost.

  32. yetipro says:
    October 23, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Secondly, the Cowboys have a massive amount of cap space starting in 2019 – even though some of it will inevitably become filled by other players, there will still be plenty left budgeted for a #1 WR.

    —————————

    Do you actually consider Cooper a #1 receiver? On what planet? Maybe on Dallas, which has literally nobody.

  33. As a Cowboys fan, let me just say this.

    Cowboy homers, get a clue! Quit talking about this being a final piece of the puzzle. Face it, we aren’t going anywhere this year. Even if Cooper returns to form from a few years ago, the laughably bad Red J and Linehan won’t have the scheme to get him the ball. And Dak and his happy feet are questionable, too. Also, the fact is the Cowboys have a player that could push the vertical game in Gallup. But again, we go back to those horrible coaches and their schemes, coupled with a QB who clearly has regressed, and viola! 7-9 here we come.

  34. thisistheendifyouletit says:
    October 24, 2018 at 5:33 am
    This argument would be true of a free agent acquisition too. I would say that a rookie deal looms larger if they performed well because then a huge contract is required. If Cooper doesn’t pan out you just let him walk. So really the numbers are in Dallas’ favre.
    —————————————————————————–
    How is this in Dallas Cowboys Favor? The Cowboys end up loosing a #1 draft pick in the 2019
    Draft for 1 season and 9 games. That’s only if he stays healthy. Jerry will never let him walk
    cause that would prove him wrong in making the trade in the first place.

  35. Philly had offered a 2nd. Dallas had to top the offer with a 1st. Overpaid? Probably, but it is all part of finding out if Dak is the future of the franchise – no more excuses of not having a number 1 receiver.

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