A host of big-time NFL wide receivers want new contracts before the 2019 season. This is nothing new, and it usually involves a contract that is either way under market or coming up after the season. In Dallas, oddly, there is no such holdout, despite Amari Cooper entering the final year of his deal.
Cooper could certainly hold out and he wouldn’t even be the first Cowboys offensive player to do so. Ezekiel Elliott is engaging in , publicly flirting with the idea of leaving the country for a vacation just as Cowboys camp started and .
But it’s not on the receiver’s mind, according to what he told reporters at Cowboys camp.
“I don’t even think about it. I think the media thinks about it more than I do,” Cooper said. “I just think its one of those things that’s going to come naturally whether it happens in this [training camp] or not. It’s not really that big of a deal to me honestly.”
Asked about Elliott and Saints receiver Michael Thomas, who is also holding out from camp from New Orleans, Cooper simply said “different strokes for different folks.” Cooper also referenced Melvin Gordon’s situation with the Chargers — Gordon wants a new deal as he heads into his fifth-year option.
“Different strokes for different folks,” Cooper said, via Pro Football Talk. “Their situations are different than mine. I have a fifth-year option coming up to where I get paid a significant amount of money if I play on that. But the running back position, you know Melvin [Gordon] is one of my good friends, and he tells me the contract he would play on this year, it’s nothing. It’s peanuts to an elephant. Everybody’s situation is different.”
Cooper is correct. His situation is different than all of these guys for a few different reasons. (Also, uh, hey Chargers, he basically just said Melvin would play for cheap,.)
For starters, Cooper is on a “new” team — he was traded to the Cowboys in the middle of last year from the Raiders in what can only qualify as a controversial trade. That deal quickly turned in the Cowboys favor, with Dallas’ offense taking off once Cooper arrived. It would be weird if he showed up via trade and immediately started holding out. That’s not exactly an ideal way to endear yourself to your new bosses who you want to give you a pile of money.
Secondly, Cooper probably understands he’s a little bit below the tier of guys like Julio Jones and Thomas and maybe even A.J. Green. so maybe that’s complicated but the point remains: Cooper can sit back, see what Jones and Thomas get in their holdout situations, and expect to top those numbers if he has a big season.
And here’s the best part for Cooper when it comes to the contract. He’s a 25-year-old wide receiver who has played four years in the NFL and produced three 1,000-yard seasons. Because of where he is playing now, he’s uniquely positioned to break the bank next year. Cooper is on his fifth-year option, which means the Cowboys only method of retaining him for 2020 without a lucrative contract extension is via the franchise tag. Unfortunately for Dallas, if they don’t sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a monster contract this offseason (think roughly $30 million per year), they will face a difficult decision because Prescott, who was not a first-round pick and therefore is not eligible for a fifth-year option, will require a franchise tag as well.
Not completing a deal with either Cooper and Prescott means the Cowboys will have to pick one of them to use the franchise tag on. Spoiler: It will be Dak. You don’t let quarterbacks leave. Which means Cooper might hit unrestricted free agency as a highly productive 25-year-old wide receiver. He would laughably pass the $20 million per year mark if that happened.
For perspective, Sammy Watkins signed as a quasi-productive, 25-year-old wide receiver. Coopers numbers are substantially better than Watkins and there are never any super talented wideouts on the free agent market.
Cooper would smash the proverbial piggy bank into a million pieces. Which might explain why he’s so calm about the whole thing.