With the Dallas Cowboys still looking for a number one wide receiver, should they consider trading for the Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper?
Following the release of former number one wide receiver Dez Bryant in April, the Dallas Cowboys decided to forgo a traditional path when it came to their passing game in 2018. Instead of emphasizing on the threat of a single wideout, the Cowboys opted to adopt a receiver-by-committee approach.
It was all in an effort to better utilize their third-year quarterback Dak Prescott, who failed to build a strong on-field connection with Bryant during their first two seasons together. It was thought that in order to make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-Friendly”, allowing their young passer to spread the ball around rather than focusing on a single player would boost the offensive production.
Through Dallas’ first six games of the regular season, that plan has been a bust. The Cowboys have the posted the 29th passing offense in the NFL, averaging just 172 yards through the air.
Even in their big win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, wide receiver Cole Beasley dominated the stat sheet recording nine catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. No other Cowboys wideout posted more than one reception. And big free agent acquisition this offseason and former Jag Allen Hurns posted zero catches on five targets.
Dallas can not expect to get similar production from the diminutive Beasley every week, as he’s only averaged three receptions per game prior to Sunday’s explosion of production.
It’s clear that the Cowboys need another threat at wide receiver to go alongside of Beasley. It was thought Hurns could be that player, but he’s recorded just eight catches on 22 targets in six games. Rookie Michael Gallup has shown flashes of outside potential, but the third rounder has struggled with inconsistency and drops, posting just seven catches on 17 targets.
It was though the Cowboys would have to wait until the 2019 NFL Draft in order to find themselves an outside threat or two to add to this struggling wide receiver corps. But a fire-sale by the Oakland Raiders organization appears to be taking place, and high-end players are rumored to be on the trading block.
One such player is former first round wide receiver Amari Cooper. The fourth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Cooper was voted to the Pro Bowl his first two seasons in the league.
Cooper posted 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie. The following year he recorded 83 catches for 1,153 yards and five scores. In 2017, Cooper had a career-high seven receiving touchdowns despite having a down-year plagued by injury, recording just 48 receptions for 680 yards.
So far this season, Cooper has been a boom-or-bust receiver for the drowning 1-5 Raiders. He’s had four games where he’s logged two receptions or less. But Cooper exploded for 10 catches for 116 yards against the Denver Broncos in Week Two. Then again in Week Four against the Cleveland Browns posting eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are seeking a first-round selection in a possible trade for Cooper. But based on his recent production, it seems unlikely they’ll receive that high of a pick for the fourth-year receiver. A conditional second or third rounder would be more plausible.
For the Cowboys, trading for a player like Cooper could help to solidify their receiving corps in the short term. But it could turn out to be a pricey one-year lease.
Cooper is making just $3.53 million this season. But Oakland did pick up his fifth-year option, costing a whopping $13.9 million in 2019. Apparently, if a trade was made, Dallas could opt out of that option before the start of the new league year if they desired.
Still, parting with a high draft selection for an inconsistent player on what could be a one-season lease seems unwise. Yet, Amari Cooper is only 24-years old and is just a year removed from two back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons. He’s an excellent route-runner with a proven skill set. If the Dallas Cowboys like the player, and can get him for the right price, Cooper is capable of lifting the team’s wide receiver corps to the level they need in order to properly support their excellent rushing attack.