Earlier this week, as the club enters its bye, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones cracked the door on a potential extension for Cooper, who’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season.
In fact, Jerry wouldn’t rule out striking agreements with Cooper and his quarterback, Dak Prescott, also an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
“That’s ongoing. I’m a multitask guy. I don’t have bright lines…It’s not a problem for me to be talking business with any player at any time,” he said Tuesday, per The Athletic.
Cooper and the Cowboys have been negotiating since the summer, after Dallas nailed down defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, right tackle La’el Collins and running back Ezekiel Elliott to big-money pacts.
But there’s been radio silence from The Star over the past few months, leading many to believe the sides have tabled negotiations — or that negotiations are trending in the wrong direction. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported last Sunday that Cooper’s departure from Big D is growing “increasingly likely.”
To which Jones strongly pushed back.
“We’re proud to have Amari. He’s impactful to our team. That’s exactly what we used that pick for. He’s certainly performed at the level that we had anticipated,” Jones said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan. “As far as extending him, I know that no one has that type of information because I’m the only one that ultimately makes that decision. I have no reason to think Amari Cooper won’t finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.”
Cooper is expected to meet or surpass the five-year, $96.25 million contract signed by Saints WR Michael Thomas at the onset of training camp. It’s possible he also eclipses, in terms of annual salary, the three-year, $66 million deal that Atlanta’s Julio Jones received last month.
As of this writing, without factoring in Thursday’s acquisition of defensive end Michael Bennett, the Cowboys have $25.058 million in available salary cap space, eighth-most in the NFL.
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Cowboys WRs Coach Gives Stunning Opinion on Amari
A cursory glance at Cooper’s NFL resume reveals over 4,500 yards, more than 300 catches, and exactly 30 touchdowns spread across six incomplete seasons.
These numbers are good enough to make Cooper a three-time Pro Bowler, to draw a first-round pick via trade, and, soon, to earn a massive, perhaps record-setting contract as the top wide receiver on America’s Team.
But not good enough to utter the E-word — “elite.” This, according to his own position coach, Sanjay Lal, who tempered optimism on the 25-year-old with an opinion that undoubtedly falls in the minority.
“He’s not elite yet. As his coach, not as a fan, as his coach, he’s not elite yet,” Lal said Wednesday following the team’s bye-week practice, via the Dallas Morning News. “But I want to make clear: He can be elite, and he will be.”
Lal, who’s in his second year as an assistant, must have incredibly high standards. Cooper has been nothing short of sensational since arriving 366 days ago from the Oakland Raiders.
Quickly developing into quarterback Dak Prescott’s favorite target, with whom he shares unbelievable chemistry, Cooper has played in 16 regular season games with Dallas, as of this writing. He’s collected 91 grabs on 126 targets for 1,346 yards (14.8 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns, helping the Cowboys to a 7-0 mark against NFC East opponents in that span.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL