There are rumblings the Dallas Cowboys cannot afford to re-sign Amari Cooper, an unrestricted free agent in 2020. But while he doesn’t control the team’s actions, the Pro Bowl wide receiver isn’t planning on playing elsewhere.
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Of course,” Cooper said Monday about inking a new deal with Dallas, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Like I just said, I love it here. I want to be here. I just love this situation, my teammates. I just feel it’s the place for me.”
Cooper has been a company man since arriving to North Texas in October 2018. A consummate professional with a famously low-key demeanor, he’s quicky assimilated into both the locker room and the local community, established as a star amongst stars.
Such is the reason he preferred to table oft-stalled negotiations until after the season: Football first, financials second.
The favorite target of quarterback Dak Prescott, who’s enjoying a career year, Cooper ranks fifth in the NFL with 971 receiving yards and is tied for the league lead with nine touchdowns.
Cooper is closing out the fifth-year option on his rookie pact, which was exercised by the Oakland Raiders before they shipped him to Dallas. The former first-round draft pick is collecting $13.924 million in base salary for 2019.
He’s expected to meet or surpass the $96.25 million contract inked 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 in September.
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Cowboys Unlikely to Retain Coop?
In October, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported — to pushback from owner Jerry Jones — that Cooper’s departure from Big D was growing “increasingly likely,” the sides failing to reach agreement on an extension.
On Sunday, as mentioned, La Canfora doubled down on his hearsay, writing “the likelihood of big roster changes for Dallas in 2020 continues to grow” as there’s been no movement on contracts for Cooper, Prescott, or cornerback Byron Jones — all impending free agents.
La Canfora believes the odds of keeping Cooper without using the franchise tag are remote. And unless things change, there’s a real possibility the 25-year-old reaches the open market, where he’s sure to be a coveted commodity.
“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 wrote. “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. The Cowboys and Cooper made no headway the entire offseason, and there is no inclination on his side to do a deal now with free agency so close.”
Cowboys Get Good News on Amari’s Knee
Cooper has gutted through multiple lower-body injuries this season — issues with his heel, ankle, quad, and knee. The latter is the most concerning heading into the 2019 stretch run.
That concern was intensified Thursday, when Cooper took a hard shot to his bum left knee during Dallas’ meeting with the Buffalo Bills, resulting in a scary tumble and brief exit from the 26-15 loss.
Fortunately, the Cowboys’ worries were allayed. Testing showed no structural damage to Cooper’s knee, ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Friday. What’s more, head coach Jason Garrett said he expects Cooper to play in the club’s Week 14 road matchup at Chicago on Thursday.
Cooper was listed as a full participant in Monday’s practice and will be all systems go for the battle of 6-6 clubs.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL