Antonio Brown is now a free agent, able to sign with any NFL team of his choosing, after the Oakland Raiders stunningly released the mercurial wide receiver on Saturday.
The question immediately becomes: Who will assume his baggage?
The Dallas Cowboys have already been floated as a possible landing spot, because of course. America’s Team is linked to every free agent, regardless if they have a need at the position.
But the NFL isn’t played on a video game console nor is it held in fantasy land. There are procedures in place and protocols to follow when assembling a roster, and limitations exist to increase parity around the league, (theoretically) making the sport more competitive.
The salary cap is one such limitation, and the Cowboys are counting their pennies after locking down DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Ezekiel Elliott. They’re also setting money aside for walk-year quarterback Dak Prescott, who could be on the verge of an agreement, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones.
As owner Jerry Jones likes to say, there’s increasingly less pie to go around, with $22.84 million in estimated salary cap space, per Spotrac.com.
And not enough to satiate Brown, who signed a three-year, $50.125 million contract with the Raiders which included $30.125 million in agreed-to and since-waived guarantees.
If Dallas didn’t have Cooper in tow, the potential marriage would make sense, even if Brown’s frozen feet, helmet tantrums and hefty price tag outweigh his dynamic on-field ability. If they didn’t just extend a host of young studs and weren’t eyeing a record-setting pact with their franchise quarterback, perhaps the sides could make it work.
But alas …
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Cowboys Unlikely to Show Interest in Brown
Don’t take my word for it. This comes directly from plugged-in ESPN reporter Ed Werder, who warned Cowboys Nation not to expect Brown’s arrival.
Coop Not Close to Contract
Prescott is the next man up to the negotiating table, and the Cowboys seem willing to break the bank, while Cooper is left wanting. Team vice president Stephen Jones revealed rather cryptically Thursday that he hasn’t regularly touched base with the 25-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler’s camp.
“There haven’t been a lot of negotiations with Amari (Cooper), period. And I’m not free to be able to share why,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I think at some point we’ll start that. I don’t know what their parameters will be.”
Jones and Co. could have been waiting for Atlanta star WR Julio Jones to ink his extension before proceeding with Cooper. Jones did so Saturday, finalizing a three-year, $66 million deal to become the league’s highest-paid receiver.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL