The Dallas Cowboys surely haven’t forgotten about life before the Amari Cooper trade. If he’s allowed to hit free agency, they might return to those dark days.
The 2018 version of the Dallas Cowboys seemed like a team destined for a high draft selection the following year. They began that season losing to the Carolina Panthers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Houston Texans, and the Washington Redskins. The Cowboys lost four of their first seven games and headed into their Week 8 bye with their season in peril.
The was a team led by quarterback Dak Prescott under center for every contest. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had started in every single game as well. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was in the midst of another double-digit sack season. And cornerback Byron Jones was fielding his first Pro Bowl-worthy performance. Yet, the team was sub .500 at the midseason point.
Coming off their bye, the Cowboys would lose again, this time to the Tennessee Titans, taking their record to a lifeless 3-5. And then something happened. Dallas would rattle off five-straight wins. They’d win seven of their final eight regular-season games, post a 10-6 record winning the NFC East, and earning themselves a spot in the playoffs.
Once in the postseason, the Cowboys would defeat the Seahawks who had bested them earlier in the year. It would be the first playoff victory for young studs like Prescott and Elliott. And most attributed that epic turnaround to the presence of a single player. And that’s wide receiver, Amari Cooper.
Earlier that year, the Cowboys decided to part ways with longtime number one wide receiver Dez Bryant. Instead of finding a replacement for Bryant, Dallas opted to try a wide receiver-by-committee approach. Names like Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and rookie Michael Gallup were added to a roster that included Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Noah Brown.
Unfortunately, the committee approach failed to replicate the success that having a true number one wideout on the field offered. That changed during the Cowboys’ bye week when they traded their 2019 first-round selection to the-then Oakland Raiders for Cooper. And that move sparked the resurgence.
Since arriving in Dallas, Cooper has earned himself two Pro Bowl nominations, which makes a total of four in his five-year career so far. With Amari in the lineup, the Cowboys have posted a 17-11 win/loss record and Prescott is coming off his best statical season ever. In 2019, Cooper also posted career-highs in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,189), average yards per catch (15.1), and receiving touchdowns (8).
Now, the day the Dallas Cowboys knew was coming is here. Cooper is about to become an unrestricted free agent. And if the Cowboys have any hesitation about re-signing him, all they need to do is remember the start of the 2018 regular season … and life before Amari Cooper.