The Dallas Cowboys traded away their 2019 first-round selection to acquire Amari Cooper. If he isn’t re-signed, was the move worth it?
After starting the 2018 NFL regular season losing four of their first seven games, the Dallas Cowboys made a move to save their season during their Week Eight bye. The Cowboys sent their 2019 first-round selection to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper.
After Cooper’s arrival in Dallas, the Cowboys would win seven of their remaining nine regular-season contests including a five-game winning streak between Weeks 10-14. The team that started the season 3-5 transformed to win the NFC East with a record of 10-6, earning themselves a playoff berth, and securing a postseason victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
At the time, the trade for Cooper was viewed as the difference maker and labeled a major success. Yet, one of the reasons the Raiders were willing to move on from the fourth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft is because Amari was less than two seasons away from needing a new contract.
Although Cooper posted career numbers in 2019, recording 79 receptions for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns, the Cowboys themselves underachieved. And the number one wideout faced criticism about disappearing during road games.
Cooper recorded 52 receptions for 869 yards and five scores in eight games at AT&T Stadium last year. But those numbers dropped to 27 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns in the same amount of contests on the road in 2019.
Cooper is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week without a new deal in place. Here’s how Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com answered a recent mailbag question that asked whether the trade was worth it if the team allows the Pro Bowler to leave in free agency this offseason.
"“I think [Cooper] will return so it’s not going to matter much. But to answer the question, no it’s not worth the trade. That’s why they made it in the first place, because ‘he was 24’ years old. We heard it over and over. So if he’s young, that means he’ll be here a while. I didn’t think there was ever a time when he wouldn’t be here long term.”"
Losing a first-round selection in exchange for a season and a half of production from Cooper seems empty. Especially when you consider the fact the Cowboys are coming off an 8-8 regular season without a playoff berth and on the heels of the team firing their longtime head coach, Jason Garrett.
Yet, the Dallas Cowboys have some big names to re-sign this offseason, with 27-year old quarterback Dak Prescott being the priority. And considering the upcoming NFL draft could contain the most talented wide receiver class we’ve seen in years, Dallas might believe they can find an adequate and much cheaper replacement for Amari Cooper rather than making him the highest-paid player at his position.