The Dallas Cowboys may soon regret one of their key offseason decisions.
According to Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report, the Cowboys made a major mistake in how they handled the trade of star receiver Amari Cooper. As Knox notes, the Cowboys’ handling of Cooper — allowing the rest of the NFL to know that the receiver was on the move this offseason — decreased his value.
Dallas would end up trading the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for just a fifth-round pick and a swap of sixth-rounders to the Cleveland Browns.
“By letting the football world know Cooper wasn’t wanted, Dallas robbed itself of any trade leverage,” explains Knox. “It only got a fifth-round pick and a swap of sixth-rounders from the Cleveland Browns for the four-time Pro Bowler.”
Cowboys Could Have Netted Much Bigger Return
While it was reported at the beginning of the offseason that the Cowboys wanted to move on from Cooper and his $20 million per year contract, the mistake was making it clear to the rest of the league that Dallas was eager at all costs to move on from Cooper.
Receiver-involved trades following the Cooper deal netted much bigger returns, as Knox details.
“To say Dallas underestimated the receiver market would be an understatement,” says Knox. “The Green Bay Packers netted first- and second-round picks for Davante Adams. The Kansas City Chiefs got a first- and second-round 2022 pick, two fourth-round selections and a 2023 sixth-round pick for Tyreek Hill.
On the draft’s opening night, the Tennessee Titans got the 18th pick and a third-rounder for A.J. Brown, while the Baltimore Ravens got the 23rd pick for Marquise Brown and a third-rounder.”
It’s hard to argue against Knox’s point. Four receivers all netted much better returns than the deal that involved Cooper. Outside of A.J. Brown, there weren’t many rumblings of any possible trades involving the likes of Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Marquise Brown. They all happened rather abruptly, which kept their trade value high and intact.
While one could argue that Adams and Hill are on another tier compared to Cooper, all one has to do is look at A.J. — one Pro Bowl selection — and Marquise — one 1,000-yard season — and see that Cooper could have been acquired for much higher draft capital than a fifth-round pick.
Cooper may be three years older than both of the latter receivers, but the point remains that he’s on a similar tier — and the Cowboys merely acquired just a fifth-round pick for a receiver who has four 1,000-yard campaigns to his name.
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Jerry Jones Devalued Cooper During Interview Prior to Trade
It also didn’t help that team owner Jerry Jones unintentionally devalued Cooper at the conclusion of the 2021 season by expressing disappointment in the performance of the 27-year-old receiver.
“I don’t have any comment on Cooper’s contract,” Jones said during an interview with 105.3 The Fan back in January. “I thought that the way we were playing early when we did make something happen, I thought Cooper had a big part of it.”
“And I’m not being trite,” Jones continued. “But how he fits in, he should take half the field with him when he runs a route. Not half — half is an exaggeration, of course, but a whole bunch of that defense should have to honor Cooper. And he ought to be able to catch it in the middle of when they’re going with him. Others do. You throw to people that are covered all the time in the NFL. You have to. Most people don’t have the numbers of receivers we’ve had.”
It’s no secret that Cooper’s production — 68 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 — didn’t exactly match his salary (he was the second-highest paid player on the Cowboys’ roster). But making it absolutely clear to the rest of the league that he wasn’t playing up to the value of his contract in the Cowboys’ eyes devalued him.
And the devaluing led to the Cowboys getting fleeced in a deal for one of the more accomplished receivers in the league.