We've talked all offseason about a potential new contract for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, who is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original rookie deal. But with the whopping new contract that the New Orleans Saints and Michael Thomas just agreed to today, the price tag may have just gone up for the Dallas Cowboys.
Thomas got a five-year, $100 million deal with $61 million in guaranteed money from New Orleans. It is the biggest contract ever for any offensive player outside of quarterbacks.
Some might quickly dismiss a comparison between Cooper and Thomas, trying to discredit Amari as not being on the same level. But before you make that mistake, consider the following.
Since entering the NFL in 2015, Cooper has been to three Pro Bowls. Thomas has been a Pro Bowler twice in his three professional seasons.
Amari Cooper is 14 months younger than Thomas, still just 25 years old.
Thomas joined a WR factory in New Orleans, with the privilege of catching balls from Drew Brees. Last year, Cooper was brought in and became difference-maker for the Cowboys offense.
So let's not kid ourselves; Amari Cooper can point to his resume, youth, and importance to Dallas and then point to the contract that Michael Thomas just received. It's really not an unreasonable comparison.
The $20 million per year that Thomas' contract just established bumps the bar up for the WR position. The previous high was $18M/year established by Odell Beckham's contract.
After them, the average is a little over $16 million from the Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, and DeAndre Hopkins contracts.
Amari Cooper isn't exactly hurting for cash in 2019. His fifth-year option is paying out $13.9 million for this season alone, making him one of the higher-paid receivers in NFL even without a new deal.
That's probably a big reason why, thankfully, there is no holdout issue going on right now between Cooper and the Cowboys.
With Dallas hitting a financial wall right now trying to deal with new contracts for Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and others, there is some comfort in the situation with Amari. The leap from what Cooper currently makes to what he's wanting won't be severe.
The jump from Amari's current cap hit to Michael Thomas money is roughly $6 million. Dallas just cleared $5 million off the salary cap by releasing WR Allen Hurns, and can save another $7 million by cutting Tyrone Crawford.
There are other moves the team can make to get all of their young talent signed up for the next several years. It's more doable than some media outlets would lead you to believe.
The Cowboys are going to have to get creative, and pay what these young talents are due, if they have any hopes of winning a Super Bowl with this roster.
I wrote yesterday about how Ezekiel Elliott's value to the Cowboys is higher than other NFL teams because of our offensive focus on the RB position. The Patriots can afford to use a stable of journeymen running backs because they have Tom Brady; the Cowboys don't have that luxury.
Keeping Dak Prescott's supporting talent is critical to any championship hopes for Dallas. A huge part of that, as we witnessed with last season's turnaround, is keeping Amari Cooper.
We saw in 2017 what happens when the Cowboys don't have an elite player at receiver. Dez Bryant's name was bigger than this game at that point, and teams became more focused on stopping Cole Beasley. The results weren't pretty.
Dallas needs Amari Cooper to open things up for Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. They need a consistent threat at receiver to help their question-marked group at tight end.
They need players who can shed coverage quickly and run consistent routes to help Dak Prescott get the ball out quickly. Cooper does that about as well as anyone in the league.
Amari may not ever put up the same stats as Michael Thomas because they play in different systems with different quarterbacks. Drew Brees throws the ball more often than Dak Prescott and is one of the most accurate passers in history; the volume just isn't going to be the same.
But stats are the wrong comparison. Impact is what matters, and we saw the dramatic effect that Cooper had on the Cowboys in 2018. Three Pro Bowls in four years is hard to deny, as well.
So yes, financially difficult as it may be for Dallas, Amari can reasonably ask for a contract close to Michael Thomas' new deal. If it does come in under, it will likely be somewhere between Thomas and Odell Beckham money at over $18-$19 million per year.
The Cowboys knew this day would come quickly when they gave up a 1st-round pick for Cooper last year. They'd have never made that trade if they weren't prepared to pay up now.
A new deal for Amari Cooper is coming. It's just a matter of time, and hopefully it's before some other NFL receiver raises the bar again.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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