Cowboys Free-Agent WR Amari Cooper Predicted to Sign with AFC Contender

Amari Cooper

Getty Amari Cooper

Two of the Dallas Cowboys‘ Big Three free agents will have new homes in 2020, according to Bleacher Report.

After naming cornerback Byron Jones as the player whom Dallas should let walk this offseason, the online media giant projects wide receiver Amari Cooper signing with the Buffalo Bills in March.

The logic being, Buffalo will look to upgrade the weaponry around franchise quarterback Josh Allen, who took a leap forward in his sophomore season, leading the team to a 10-6 record and wild-card playoff berth. His progression hinges on a top-flight supporting cast, which the Bills currently lack.

Via BR columnist Kristopher Knox:

To further accelerate Allen’s development, the Bills need to outfit him with a No. 1 receiver. It wouldn’t be surprising if they went out and grabbed perhaps the best one on the market, Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper.

Not only is Cooper a big, physical target who can win in critical situations, but he’s also a former teammate of Buffalo receiver Cole Beasley. Bringing in Cooper would offer at least a little established chemistry to the receiving corps. It would also give Allen the legitimate No. 1 target he’s lacked since arriving in the NFL.

Cooper will have no shortage of suitors on the open market, and the Bills will have no spending limitations, with an estimated $80.1 million in available salary cap-room — third-most in the NFL behind the Dolphins ($89.9 million) and Colts ($87.5 million).

The Cowboys own the fifth-most space ($77.2 million), a chunk of which they may allocate toward Cooper via a long-term contract, or as a Plan B, the franchise tag, expected to cost $18.491 million for 2020.

On a multi-year pact, he could meet or surpass the $96.25 million contract inked by New Orleans’ Michael Thomas last summer. 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.

Cooper recently confided to NFL Network’s Jane Slater his “wholehearted” desire to remain with the Cowboys for the foreseeable future, committing to the team which surrendered a first-round draft pick to pry him away from the Oakland Raiders in 2018.

“I do [want to stay in Dallas],” he said last Thursday at the Pro Bowl, where he replaced Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans on the NFC squad, via Pro Football Talk. “I mean that wholeheartedly. I love Dallas. . . .I feel like it’s home. I want to live there for a long time.”

To that end, while Cooper is content allowing the process to play out, he admits an agreement isn’t on the horizon, less than seven weeks before the 25-year-old is slated to test unrestricted free agency for the first time in his star-studded career.

“I haven’t talked to my agent about my contract situation,” Cooper said, via PFT. “We’ve talked about other things like Pro Bowl, things I have to do at the Super Bowl. I don’t want to rush it. I think it’s not something that’s imminent. So just taking it day by day.”

The Cowboys’ leading receiver this past season, Cooper battled through numerous lower-body injuries to deliver 79 catches for a career-high 1,189 yards (eighth-most in the NFL) and eight touchdowns, also a new personal best.

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Robert Quinn Uncovers Free-Agent Decision on Dallas

The Cowboys reportedly want Robert Quinn back in 2020, and the free-agent pass-rusher admittedly wants to be back. Speaking to SI.com’s Mike Fisher, Quinn lobbied to re-sign with Dallas after leading the team in sacks — and, more importantly to the 29-year-old, forming close-knit relationships with his new mates.

“Since I got here, at first I joined a locker room full of strangers, and then they became friends and some of them became brothers.

“You love when things happen like that,” he told Fisher.

Quinn was a revelation in his first Cowboys campaign, arriving via an offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins. Despite serving a two-game suspension to kick off the year, he delivered a team-high 11.5 sacks, second-most of his nine-year career, dwarfing the production of $105 million defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (five sacks). Quinn chipped in 34 tackles and two forced fumbles for good measure.

That Quinn and the club seem to share a mutual feeling echoes a previous claim by plugged-in NFL analyst Tony Pauline, who reported from last week’s Senior Bowl that owner Jerry Jones “has been aggressive” in communicating Quinn’s hopeful retention.

It’s important that Jones comes through considering Dallas currently does not have a starting DE — Lawrence’s bookend — under contract. All of Quinn, Tyrone Crawford, and Michael Bennett, a midseason addition, are heading to unrestricted free agency, which begins March 18. Even backup DE Kerry Hyder is a UFA, and so are defensive tackles Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods and Christian Covington.


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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL