Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper earned $22 million last season while catching 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns.
Decent production, but nowhere close to what Dallas was expecting from a player earning $22 million (it probably didn’t help that Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns while earning $18 million).
Cooper’s lack of production last season has put an interesting option on the table for the Cowboys.
If Dallas cuts Cooper the team would free up $16 million in salary cap space in 2022.
This seems to be an option the Cowboys are at least somewhat considering.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones expressed some frustration last month with Cooper. And then at the Senior Bowl this week, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones also had some interesting things to say about contracts and production (comments seemingly directed at Cooper).
“If you’re gonna pay somebody a lot of money, you want them to be the best at what they do,” said Jones last week.
I can see how Dallas thinks cutting Cooper would be the best move for the franchise in 2022 — paying that amount of cash for non-elite production is a tough pill to swallow.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the right move to make.
Just because Cooper didn’t put up gaudy numbers last season doesn’t mean he’s not an important part of the Cowboys’ offense.
In fact, he’s very important when it comes to the offense and how effective quarterback Dak Prescott can be in it.
Prescott’s quarterback rating in 2021 was significantly worse without Cooper on the field.
#Cowboys QB Dak Prescott with Amari Cooper in 2021:
Passer Rating of 108. #Cowboys QB Dak Prescott without Amari Cooper in 2021:
Passer Rating of 83.1.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 4, 2022
If Dallas is going to make it to the Super Bowl next season, they’ll need Prescott playing at his absolute best.
And it’s clear from that stat that Prescott is at his best when Cooper is on the field.
The answer isn’t releasing Cooper. The answer is figuring out a way to get Cooper more involved in the offense.
And that falls back on coaching.
Cutting Cooper would be the worst move the Cowboys could make this offseason.
Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports