Dallas Cowboys: First-round cost means re-signing Amari Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys have little choice but to make Amari Cooper one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL this offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys made their bed when they traded away their 2019 first-round selection to the then-Oakland Raiders for Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper two years ago. Now, they have to sleep in it.

One of the reasons the Raiders were willing to part ways with a player they drafted fourth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft is because his rookie contract was coming to an end. The Raiders had already taken advantage of Cooper’s relatively cheap price tag for nearly three and a half seasons before shipping him off to Dallas.

And the Cowboys certainly benefited from it as well. The midseason trade turned their season around in 2018, helping Dallas to win eight of their final nine regular-season games, posting a 10-6 record, winning the NFC East, and securing a playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round.

Despite dealing with lower leg injuries last season, Cooper was still able to post career-highs in both receiving yards (1,189) and touchdown catches (8). Amari was also invited to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his five-year career (twice as a Cowboy).

Now, Cooper’s rookie contract has expired and he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month. Yet, Dallas has little choice but to re-sign (or tag) him even though it will cost them a solid chunk of their salary cap space to do it.

According to Sportrac.com, Cooper’s estimated market value is $19.7 million in annual salary. That would make him the second-highest-paid player at his position in 2020, only behind the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones.

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Yet, the Dallas Cowboys knew this day was coming. And the fact they sacrificed a first-round selection in order to acquire him means they committed to re-signing Amari Cooper on the day they made that trade.