Inside the building, a different story.
Rob Phillips, a beat reporter for the official Cowboys website, recently assuaged concerns over Cooper’s short-term status, with which “I don’t think the team is concerned.”
“Still working his way back from the ankle surgery he had in January and the Cowboys are always cautious with players coming off surgery,” Phillips wrote Monday. “Head coach Mike McCarthy said he’s hopeful Cooper will be ready for the start of training camp, but I don’t think the team is concerned about Cooper’s status. Just making sure he’ll be ready when it matters, to borrow a phrase from Dak Prescott.”
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‘Not a Crisis’
Considering Cooper’s lengthy history of lower-leg maladies, Cowboys Nation grew concerned when it became apparent the $100 million wideout was being held out of drills during Organized Team Activities and minicamp practices.
Head coach Mike McCarthy revealed on June 9 that Cooper is “still working through” an ankle issue and “hopeful” he’ll be ready to go for the July 21 start of camp. Cooper underwent a routine clean-up procedure in January, and six months later remains hampered by it. Hence, the concern.
Though, again, those connected to the organization’s inner workings aren’t pressing the panic button just yet; Mike Fisher of CowboysSI.com reported on June 10 the injury is “not a crisis.” And Monday, in-house writer David Helman echoed as much.
“Amari had a scope on his ankle back at the end of the season, and my guess is that his current rehab is still working his way back from that,” Helman wrote. “Unfortunately, COVID has still limited our access to the point that I don’t know a ton more than that. But on the bright side, Mike McCarthy did seem optimistic during minicamp that Cooper will be ready when training camp gets underway.”
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Perpetually nicked-up, Cooper made all 16 appearances last season, leading the Cowboys with 92 receptions for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. He’s taking back-to-back 1,000-yard efforts into the 2021 campaign. Which could be his last in silver and blue.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported in March that the team kept open an “exit door” this offseason by opting not to restructure Cooper’s megadeal. He’s slated to count $22 million against the 2021 salary cap — or 10.5% of the Cowboys’ overall payroll. His $20 million base salary is guaranteed.
Cooper is signed through 2024, his age-30 campaign. If Dallas opts to move on, they must reach a decision prior to the fifth day of the 2022 league year, when his $20 million salary for that season becomes fully guaranteed.
“Can part ways in early 2022 with just $6M dead money vs. cap,” Gehlken noted. “This one of big decisions looming at WR position. Michael Gallup in contract year.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL