Amari Cooper’s value in Dallas proves he should be around long term

    The Dallas Cowboys have reworked a lot of contracts, but Amari Cooper has not been one of them. They'd be foolish not to keep him around.

    Amari Cooper is the Dallas Cowboys WR1 of the past, present, and future. CeeDee Lamb is great, and Michael Gallup is one of the more underrated wide receivers in the NFL. But Cooper is even more underrated when compared to his peers, and it seems the Cowboys are undervaluing him, too.

    It would be foolish to move on from Cooper because the narratives that followed him don’t apply anymore. But as other Cowboys contracts get pushed to the future, Cooper’s deal has remained intact, as does his contractual “out” for the team.

    Amari Cooper is everything you want in a star wide receiver

    If you’re not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys or Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders or watched Hard Knocks, you may have never even heard Cooper speak. He’s a quiet technician. How often do we see that type of demeanor from a high-end wide receiver? Now, how often do wide receivers cause problems in the locker room?

    People get on Cooper for the wrong reasons. They’ll complain about his perceived lack of emotion. They’ll say he doesn’t care enough.

    Yet, nobody can argue that he’s not one of the top five route runners in the NFL. That is not a God-given attribute, folks. Sure, a man can be more explosive than another. Yes, some can naturally change direction better than others. But that’s barely scratching the surface of what makes somebody a great route runner.

    And Cooper separates at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. That’s different. That young man works at his craft. You don’t get to be a craftsman without being obsessed with greatness.

    “I think I’m the best wide receiver in the league. Have I proven it? I wouldn’t say I have. I’m trying to put up those numbers to lead the league in yards, touchdowns, all across the board really.”

    His introspective nature is soothing, too. He doesn’t possess blind confidence in himself the way some do. Telling us he needs to prove it means he’s nowhere close to satisfied yet.

    So, from a personality and workmanship perspective, he’s the perfect WR1.

    Amari Cooper is the Cowboys’ best receiver

    And that’s not going to change any time soon. Everybody wants Lamb to be the Cowboys’ WR1. After spending the 17th overall pick on him and seeing him flash as a rookie, that’s understandable.

    Lamb, however, is still going through some growing pains. Last night, he dropped multiple passes he should have finished, including the interception Dak Prescott threw.

    Lamb is more dynamic after the catch, better in contested situations, and has a flair for the dramatic, which makes him exciting. But Cooper gets open all of the time, and he doesn’t drop passes. If he remains healthy for a second straight season, in what this offense appears to be, he’s going to have a career year.

    Oh yeah, and despite this being Year 7 for Cooper, he’s still only 27 years old and just now hitting his prime. His plantar fasciitis appears under control now also, as he played a relatively healthy 2020.

    If last night’s performance wasn’t enough to sway you, Cooper’s 2020 should have. He caught 18 more passes than Lamb while also being the more efficient receiver. Lamb will undoubtedly grow as a player, and I expect him to be one of the best receivers in the NFL, along with one of the most productive.

    His game isn’t easily replaceable

    With the amount of 11 personnel sets in the NFL today and the lack of quality defensive back play, why would a team willingly cut a walking 1,000-yard producer? Sure, wide receivers are starting to feel like a dime a dozen in the NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean we should be trying to replace a sure-fire WR1 with a lottery ticket.

    But heck, it could even be a boat!

    Teams absolutely need two legitimate receiving threats to contend offensively. The Cowboys could survive with Lamb, Gallup, Dalton Schultz, Blake Jarwin, Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard. There is no doubt about that.

    But that would involve cutting your best receiver to pay your third-best receiver … like $5 million less? Even if Gallup is a WR2 for most teams, that math doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, Gallup’s role within the offense is significantly easier to replace.

    Gallup might have the game to be a high-volume, high-efficiency receiver. Yet, that’s not his role in the Cowboys’ offense. No, Gallup is the downfield threat in this offense. He’s the big-play, 50-50 ball receiver, with a career catch rate that sits at a very 1990s-era 55.3%.

    Cooper is a quarterback-independent weapon. That was proven when he led the Cowboys in every major statistical category at the position in 2020, despite playing with four different quarterbacks.

    He’s arguably a top-10 receiver in the NFL and one of the five best route runners. Last night, with the entire league watching against the defending Super Bowl champions, he recorded 13 receptions for 139 yards and a TD — greatly impacting his fantasy outlook. The Cowboys would be foolish not to let Cooper live out his contract in Dallas.

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