Could Raiders Bring Back Controversial Former 1st Round Pick WR?

amari cooper

Getty Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper.

Over the years, the Las Vegas Raiders have had a lot of first-round picks turn out to be duds. One of the better picks the team made was drafting Amari Cooper in 2015. The wide receiver was the total package coming out of Alabama and it didn’t take him long to make an impact. He broke 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons with the team.

Unfortunately, the success wasn’t sustainable as his productivity declined over the next two seasons before the Raiders decided to trade him to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick. Things got off to a strong start in Dallas as Cooper went back to being a productive receiver, making the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2019. He signed a $100 million contract with the Cowboys in 2020 but it looks like the team could have buyer’s remorse.

2021 was Cooper’s worst year with the team. He only caught 68 passes for 865 yards despite playing in 15 of 17 games. In Dallas’ playoff game, he had one catch for six yards. Due to his lackluster year and huge cap hit, there’s speculation that the Cowboys could cut him this offseason. The Athletic recently said that Cooper could be a cap casualty:

The two most noteworthy candidates are Cooper and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who will count as a $27 million cap hit next season. The biggest difference between the two situations is that the Cowboys are facing $19 million in dead cap money if they release Lawrence, compared to only $6 million in dead cap money with Cooper.

$6 million is a reasonable number for the Cowboys to eat to avoid the $20 million he’s due annually for the next three years.

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Could Raiders Show Interest in Cooper if Released?

Cooper isn’t exactly loved by the Raiders fan base. Towards the end of his tenure with the team, he dropped a lot of passes and appeared apathetic about the team. After he was traded, he took some subtle jabs at the team. Despite his mild-mannered demeanor, Raiders fans can’t stand him.

However, he could be an affordable option in free agency if the Cowboys cut him. He’s not going to play for a minimum deal but he’ll likely get something closer to $10 million a year than the $20 million he’s making now. Cooper did have a great rapport with Carr over their first two seasons together. There’s no reason to believe there’s any ill will between the two. Cooper may have had an issue with former head coach Jon Gruden but he’s no longer there. Perhaps he’d be a much better fit under new head coach Josh McDaniels. It’s certainly possible that the Raiders would take a look at him if he’s released.

Better Options Available to Raiders

Cooper gets a bad rap with Raiders fans due to how things ended but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good receiver. At a reasonable price, he could be a difference-maker in Las Vegas. That said, there should be better options available to the team.

Davante Adams is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL and he’s set for free agency. There are also notable names like Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin available. If the Raiders want to go cheaper, taking a look at D.J. Chark or Mike Williams is an option. The draft is also loaded with great receiver talent. With Cooper, there are a lot of unknowns. It seems like he can check out if he’s not heavily involved in the game plan. The Raiders would be wise to look for somebody without so many question marks.

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