The Dallas Cowboys have no regrets after trading their 2018 first-round pick for Receiver Amari Cooper. The move turned their season around and got them to the playoffs, and Cooper went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Hopes are high for both parties headed into 2019, and there’s a reasonable chance that Amari could threaten some of the franchise’s single-season receiving records.
Last October, Jerry Jones lamented that the Cowboys hadn’t had a “true number-one” receiver for several years. About two weeks later, Dallas made the trade for Amari Cooper.
So, with Cooper now the clear top receiver in the Cowboys’ offense, could he be in striking distance of some of the team’s records for receptions, receiving yards, or touchdowns?
In nine games as a Cowboy last year, Cooper had 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns. If you use those stats as the basis for a 16-game projection, you get the following:
94 receptions, 1,289 yards, 11 touchdowns
Let’s assume Cooper gets close to those numbers with a full season in 2019. How do they compare with the Cowboys’ single-season records in those three categories?
- Receptions: 111 by Michael Irvin in 1995
- Rec. Yards: 1,603 by Michael Irvin in 1995
- Rec. TDs: 16 by Dez Bryant in 2014
So, clearly, Amari would need a higher production rate in all three areas to break any of the records. Is it reasonable to think that he can do this?
There are several factors that suggest Amari Cooper will have a more productive year in 2019.
For one, Cooper was a mid-season acquisition in 2018. He didn’t get an offseason to work on his mastery of the plays or his chemistry with Dak Prescott. That changes this year.
Also, keep in mind that Cole Beasley was still here as a favorite target of Prescott’s. Now that Cole is gone, and Dak’s trust in Amari will be much stronger, we can expect more passes to be headed Cooper’s way as the new go-to guy in the clutch.
Another helpful factor will be the overall strength of the offense. The offensive line should be better with Travis Frederick’s return and Connor Williams’ development. Dak Prescott was the second-most-sacked QB in the league last year, and if that number goes down then his pass attempts will naturally go up. It also means less pressure in the pocket and more accurate throws.
That said, those records for receiving yards and touchdowns are still awfully high marks. Last season in the entire NFL, only Julio Jones had more yards than Irvin’s record from almost 25 years ago. The most touchdowns any WR had was Antonio Brown with 15.
Even if he has the best season of any WR in the league, Amari Cooper may still not break those Cowboys records.
The single-season receptions mark is in range, however. Irvin’s 111 catches is only 17 more than Cooper’s production rate last year. That’s just 1-2 catches more per game, which is perfectly reasonable given the improvement factors we just outlined.
So, yes, Amari Cooper could break at least one Cowboys receiving record in 2019. And if he can threaten one or two more, both the player and team could be in line for a very special season.