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Cowboys Using Different Tones on Futures of Amari Cooper & Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys Executive VP addressed the media yesterday at the 2022 NFL . Particularly striking from his comments were the different tones he used when discussing the contracts and futures of WR and RB with the team.

Amari and Zeke are both in the top-five for scheduled hits this season. Cooper will count $22 million against the cap and Elliott will come in at $18.2 million as their contracts are currently designed.

The big difference between them is the amount flexibility that Dallas has on their deals. Cooper has only $6 million left in dead money on his contract, meaning the Cowboys could save $16 million by trading releasing him or about $12.6 million in a restructure.

Elliott's deal is far more restrictive. Having already been restructured in the past, Zeke still has $30 million in dead money and can't be cut outright. Even making him a June-1st cut would only zero out this year, pushing dead money to 2023 and giving no relief to the 2022 cap.

The Cowboys can get $9 million in cap space with another restructure on Elliott's contract. But as you just read, that immediate help can haunt you further down the road.

With this difference between Cooper and Elliott already well known, many have naturally been focused on Amari as a potential target or cap casualty this . Based on the differences in tone and language he used yesterday, Stephen Jones appeared to be showing that the Cowboys has similar thoughts.

First, notice the staunch support given in Jones' comments about Ezekiel Elliott:

I want Zeke on my team. You talk about playing through some , I mean, he is a competitor. I think he’s a damn good and I think he’s going to help us win. Obviously, his contract, his money is guaranteed. He’s going to be here.

Quite the endorsement, right? But it really rings hollow when you look at the last part of the statement and know the reality of Zeke's contract.

Dallas doesn't have a choice but to support Elliott. And while he's not getting as much credit as he deserves for still having 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns in a “down year,” and especially while playing through a knee injury, there's no denying that Zeke hasn't been the same guy who earned that huge contract in 2019.

Hopefully needed renovation on the and better personal health will get Elliott back to his former glory. But that hope is all the Cowboys have right now as Zeke's contract gives them no alternative.

Now, for a much different flavor, check out what Stephen had to say when asked about Amari Cooper's future with the team:

It's too early for me to address that. I don't want to address any of that as far as the details of the contract.

Yikes! Jones was only one level above this reaction to that question.

live simply, breathe deeply.

With receivers and plus TE all about to become unrestricted , you'd think Dallas might be more committed to keeping one of their few contracted offensive weapons in house. But Stephen's comments suggest that the team is not only exploring options with Cooper but may have already moved on from him in their hearts.

Granted, Amari's production was down in 2021 from previous years. It was his first full season without at least 1,100 receiving yards (only 865), although Cooper did match his career-high with eight touchdowns.

With clearly having moved into number-one status, Dallas' willingness to part with Cooper and use his cap space elsewhere isn't entirely unreasonable. But without Gallup, Wilson, or any other receiver of consequence signed to help fill the behind Lamb, the Cowboys are risking a massive depletion of offensive talent.

There could be more to this story than just on-field performance and cap numbers. Cooper's choice to not get the COVID-19 vaccine may have cost him and the Cowboys two critical games this year as he missed the Chiefs and Raiders in November.

With lauding his team for its high vaccination rate throughout the year, Amari's decision was possible contentious or divisive behind the scenes. And even if the front office respected his choice, that embarrassing home loss on might've made it harder.

The vaccination factor is speculative, of course. Even if the decision to part with Cooper is purely driven by the salary cap then that would be justifiable given Dallas' situation. They have to clear $24 million just to meet the cap and even more if they want to retain, replace, and upgrade talent throughout the roster.

What is clear, though, is that one of the de facto general managers of the spoke differently about two of their biggest stars' futures. If Stephen Jones' comments are reflective of the organization's stances on them both, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott probably won't be teammates anymore in 2022.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Howard

Is there a rule that the Dallas media can’t ask hard questions? They never ask anything which shows the repeated failures since they “fired” Jimmy Johnson and his players retired. Why not? These contracts are bad because Stephen is incompetent. I don’t blame the players, it’s the Jones that are a laughing stock. Just listening to Dan Patrick Show and he says Jerry Jones refuses to come on his show. Pathetic

lonewolfz28

And therein lies the answer to your question about asking the hard questions. You ask the hard questions, you don’t get to ask very many before you get to ask none. It’s called Jerry’s World for a reason. That term isn’t just a nickname for AT&T stadium, it’s pretty much everything that has to do with the Cowboys.

Interesting how you hear very little from Ed Werder these days. Same can be said from a few other Dallas reporters that used to ask the “hard questions”.

gary b

Well both underperformed this year and neither are in their prime anymore (Especially Elliot). EE is a knucklehead and his off field transgressions and hold outs have cost us over the years. But Jerry drafted him and has stuck by him. And what thanks did he get? EE bends him over and forces him to resign him two years early.

Jerry plays favorites, and it can cloud his judgement. WTF was EE doing getting the bulk of the carries over Pollard, while injured and ineffective?

The coolness towards Cooper is likely a sign he wants to move on from him.

I would be curious to know that if it were fiscally possible to move on from Zeke NOW, would jerry do it?

Dennis55

A lot of the problems was the oline and dak with cooper! But cooper does slow down during some games

gary b

If by slowing down u mean disappearing. I agree

.

But ur right the OL problems were the biggest reason why this offense bogged down.

Cory

Same ole Cowboys crap!!! It has gotten completely stale with me. Lifetime fan but I’m done with this organization. You will see the same ole crap again next year.

B-Real

I think it’s sad that it was Cooper’s talents that allowed Prescott to steal all that money from the organization.
They weren’t doing Jack until Coop showed up.
Let’s see how good Lamb is when he’s drawing double coverages and Dak over throws him, bounces a pass at his feet or doesn’t look his way because he’s “not open”.
Bottom line. Teams have the Cowboys figured out.
Stack the line to atop the run, double cover their best receiver and force Dak to beat them. He’s proven time and time again that he can’t.
Wasted money, wasted seasons in my opinion.

gary b

They didn’t stack the line all year. Once they figured out we couldn’t run, it was the opposite. They dropped everyone in coverage. The OL got run over and Dak was forced to check down too often.

Doesn’t absolve Dak’s responsibility. He wasn’t good enough. But much more to it then him.

Anthony

The common denominator is and always will be The Jones family running this team right out of the playoffs. It has been 25 plus years of everybody blaming players, coaches, and even reporters for the Jones ineptitude. They have wasted hall of fame player’s year after year. Yet we still support this team that has not made it out of the Divisional round once in 25 years. Hate to say it but all they care about is marketing this team because that’s is how they stay relevant and rich. Most valuable sports franchise In professional sports keeps them content. Just being real.

VAM

Cooper was touted as the savior for DP. They dumped Dez, supposedly because he “suddenly” forgot how to run routes? So in comes Amari, the route runner, Cooper. Then they stacked the WR room with MG AND the steal of that draft, CEE DEE Lamb. Philly fans were were going insane when we were able to grab Lamb. Pretty damn good passing outlets, IMO. But apparently not good enough for the annual “MVP” in waiting.

So now we have another scapegoat, Amari Cooper, for our so called “franchise” QB. Anyone seeing a trend here. Who is the one constant on the field?

Anthony

The constant is Jerry and Steven.

VAM

Anthony, my question was the constant “on the field”.

But I get your point , and have commented before about maybe JJ being OK with the status quo, as he does have the most valued franchise in the US, AND has Jerry World to sport many other spectacles that rack in the revenue.

However, he does PAY (probably OVERPAYS) his players ROYALLY to PERFORM and get RESULTS. So let’s not put everything at the feet of the front office. My take is unfortunately they have backed the WRONG horses with these idiotically rich, long term contracts at KEY POSITIONS, that OBVIOUSLY HAVE NOT worked out. So, their judgement at accessing talent, at contract time has been off, holding on to some players they should have jettisoned.

Right now, this team is partly living off their significant winning HISTORY, and all the hype the MSM GIVES THEM. Too bad for the longtime fans for OVER A QUARTER CENTURY NOW.

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