The Dallas Cowboys are slated to be more than $12 million over the salary cap in 2022, per Spotrac. This means the Cowboys are likely going to be forced to part with quality players, making for hard decision for the Dallas front office this offseason.
The Cowboys have a lot of money tied up to just a few offensive players in Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. One position that is almost guaranteed to look different next season is wide receiver. Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson are among the Cowboys’ top free agents.
USA Today’s K.D. Drummond suggests the Cowboys could consider trading Cooper this offseason. Depending on what the Cowboys received in return as part of the deal, the team could save $16 million in cap space.
“Cooper is the first of the players who could be off the roster, but it’s highly advised against. He may always suffer lower leg ailments but he fights through those,” Drummond detailed. “The club certainly wasn’t happy with him missing two games due to catching COVID while being unvaccinated, so that could play a factor as well.
“Truth is, the offense needs him, especially if they aren’t resigning Gallup but even if they do. They won’t release him, but the savings are the same so just noting here and with other candidates. He is signed through 2024 with a base salary of $20 million and a current cap hit of $22 million each season.”
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Cooper Has 3 Seasons Remaining on His 5-Year, $100 Million Contract
Cowboys fans got to see what the team’s offense looks like without Cooper and the results were not pretty. That said, the offense continued to sputter even with Cooper in the lineup against the Saints.
Cooper’s five-year, $100 million contract along with his $20 million annual salary may be a luxury the Cowboys cannot afford. Drummond added that the Cowboys could try to restructure Cooper’s contract to save as much as $12.67 million.
There is a world where the Cowboys opt to move on from Cooper and replace him with Gallup or possibly a less-expensive free agent. The Cowboys have a potential out in Cooper’s deal after this season, but would take a $6 million cap hit if they release the star receiver, per Spotrac.
Jones Was Critical of Cooper for Being Unvaccinated
It is a common refrain in the NFL that the best ability is availability. Cooper is a regular on the injury report throughout the week, but to his credit, the receiver consistently plays through injuries. Prior to this year, Cooper had not missed a game during his previous two seasons with the Cowboys. That said, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was very pointed with his criticism of Cooper for his unvaccinated status and being sidelined for two games after testing positive for COVID-19.
“Again, I said it early, you check ‘me’ at the door in a football team,” Jones explained during his November 23 interview with Dallas’ 105.3 the Fan. “That has nothing to do with the issues of masking, not masking, getting vaccinated, not getting vaccinated, and if I have a tone I shouldn’t. It just has nothing to do with it. The facts are it is a ‘we thing’ when you walk into the locker room and anybody is being counted on to pull his weight. Everybody expects that, they look around at each other. They understand everybody’s rights, they do, we do, everybody understands our rights and our options as it pertains to those rights.
“But can you, if you forget that it’s a we thing and how important your part is. Obviously, these guys are rewarded, they’re rewarded financially. Now, Amari Cooper is outstanding, folks. He’s one of the highest character guys that you will ever be around in any area. …Nobody is saying that he isn’t outstanding but this is a classic case of how it can impact a team when people are, at the end of the day, this is not individual, it is team. You cannot win anything individually. So, all of that are statements that I know everybody has heard ’til they’re blue in the face, but the point is that this popped us. This did pop us.”