For the second time since the 2019 season ended, impending free-agent wide receiver Amari Cooper demonstrated his undying (verbal) loyalty toward the team which surrendered a first-round pick to rescue him from the lowly, then-Oakland Raiders’ clutches.
“Listen. I love being a Dallas Cowboy,” Cooper said Thursday on 105.3 The Fan, via Blogging the Boys. “I love everything about it. I was just thinking about that today. I think about it almost every day, really. Just primetime games. It seems like more night games than everybody and that always feels good to a football player. You know everything. The facility, I love it here in Frisco where I stay at now. Just the aura of being a Dallas Cowboy, you can’t beat it.”
“I want to be a Dallas Cowboy for life.”
“Life” is a strong word, but the Cowboys are expected to oblige Cooper to some extent in the days ahead, possibly in the form of a market-resetting extension — upwards of $20 million annually, according to estimates.
Dallas has until March 12 to apply the franchise tag to Cooper or quarterback Dak Prescott, also an unrestricted free agent. Team vice president Stephen Jones announced at last month’s Scouting Combine that no new deals would be completed until the NFL and NFL Players Association ratify the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which remains in the voting stages.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Saturday that negotiations “are set to intensify very soon” between Dallas and the Pro Bowl pass-catcher, after the sides broke their silence at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reported Friday that Cooper’s rep and the Cowboys met again since the Combine, where they initially shared “upbeat” dialogue. The club, too, has spoken for a second time with Prescott’s camp.
Free agency kicks off Wednesday, March 18, preceded by a two-day legal tampering window during which contracts can be agreed to but not physically signed. The tea leaves suggest the exclusive franchise tag will be applied to Prescott while Dallas works out a long-term pact for Cooper.
Who maintains it’s “very important” he continues to catch passes from Dak.
“We’ve built a good relationship so far,” Cooper said, via Blogging the Boys. “From the time I got here we were able to hit the ground running and just from my experience in being in the NFL I wouldn’t say that that’s a common thing. Sometimes you can line up with a quarterback after getting traded or going to a new team, whether it’s the draft or whatever, and it not go so smooth. And so I wouldn’t try to trade that for anything because I know what can be on the other side of that. I would say it’s very important.”
Across 25 games with the Cowboys, following his October 2018 arrival, Cooper has recorded 132 receptions for 1,914 yards (14.5 yards per catch) and 14 touchdowns. He led the team last season with 1,189 yards and eight scores on 79 grabs, making all 16 starts despite battling multiple lower-leg and foot injuries.
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Cooper Lobbies for Dez Bryant to Re-Join Cowboys
He wants the band back together. And by “band,” Amari means the Cowboys‘ wide receiver corps — featuring Dez Bryant.
During his interview on 105. The Fan, Cooper stated “it would be great” if Bryant returned to the Cowboys, acknowledging that he’d like to line up alongside the former Pro Bowler, forming a lethal threesome with Michael Gallup.
“Yeah, of course, I want to play with him,” he said, via WFAA. “I would have some questions for him; I’ve never had double-digit TDs in the NFL. Just that he was able to do that in the NFL, I know that I can learn something from him.”
The last we heard, Bryant was offering to switch to tight end for the Cowboys, literally and figuratively occupying the secondary role vacated by Jason Witten. If a showering Jerry Jones approves of the reunion, of course. (He seems less than bullish.)
For what it’s worth, Cooper, who speaks with Bryant “every now and again,” believes Dez has enough juice left in his 31-year-old legs (32 in November) to make good on his play-making promise.
“That’s not something you just lose,” Cooper said, via USA Today. “I think he can come back and be a dominant player, really, if given the opportunity to do so.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL