What’s next for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper?

A big contract and diminished production is a bad combination for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper. Jerry Jones weighs in.

A pivotal decision is approaching Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. His Cowboys have to decide if they’re going to retain wide receiver Amari Cooper following a dip in production.

Decision looming on Amari Cooper’s future

While the first two years of Cooper’s five-year, $100 million contract was guaranteed for skill, injury, and salary cap (for $40 million in guaranteed compensation), the $20 million salary that the former Alabama standout is due this year becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year in March. It’s guaranteed for injury only currently.

According to league sources not authorized to speak publicly, the Cowboys haven’t made a decision on what they’re going to do, but most expect them to retain Cooper. The plan is to continue to evaluate his performance along with the other players on the roster and then make decisions. If the Cowboys move on from Cooper, there would only be $6 million in remaining dead money.

How Cooper’s uncertainty impacts CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup

While one source predicted the Cowboys ultimately move on from Cooper and lean even more heavily on CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup when he returns from a knee injury, a torn ACL, another expressed confidence that Cooper isn’t going anywhere.

Cooper caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in an NFC Wild Card playoff game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. During the regular season, he caught 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. Cooper caught 92 passes for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns two seasons ago.

This situation involving the four-time Pro Bowl selection, already being watched closely in league circles, became more of a topic for conversation when Jones spoke openly about the deal on his radio show in Dallas recently.

“I don’t have any comment on Cooper’s contract,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “I thought that we were playing early when we did make something happen, I thought Cooper had a big part in that. And I’m not being trite, but how he fits in and should take half the field with him when he goes and runs the field. Not half, that’s an exaggeration, of course. But a whole bunch of that defense should have to honor Cooper.

“Not half, half is an exaggeration, of course, but a whole bunch of that defense should have to honor Cooper,” Jones continued. “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.”

Amari Cooper’s stats with the Dallas Cowboys

Cooper averaged 85.5 catches for 1,151 yards in his first two seasons with the Cowboys after being acquired in a 2018 trade from the Raiders. Then, the Cowboys signed him to the big contract.

“The reason those contracts are being discussed is because they have two sides to them,” Jones said. “One’s got it coming, and the other one’s got to pay it. And the one that’s got it coming is going to go out and perform usually to the level of the contract.

“That’s the way I think about those contracts. You don’t just get up and take contracts or agreements with each other and just decide that because you’ve had a big (loss) at home that you’re going to change directions.”

The Cowboys are probably better off holding onto Cooper and finding a way to get the most out of their hefty investment.

Aaron Wilson is the NFL Insider for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL.