The Dallas Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper and now must replace his impact
The Dallas Cowboys are well-known for their blazing offense. That’s due to a plethora of weapons at their disposal. Unfortunately for the team, the front office decided to trade a star in wide receiver Amari Cooper.
While shortened by injury, the 2021 season was arguably his worst since the injury-plagued 2017 season. The four-time Pro Bowler still saw 104 targets, catching 68 for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a lot of production, but Dallas could find a way to replace it.
The Cowboys still have a ton of weapons on their roster. While they never added another top-end talent, the team can collectively come together. Let’s start by looking at the wide receivers. Former 2020 first-rounder CeeDee Lamb is now taking the step up to be the undisputed WR1 for America’s team. That is despite already leading the team this past season in most receiving categories.
This upcoming season he can get at least 140 targets. That’s up from 120 from last season and would be the most targets to one Cowboys player since Tony Romo targeted Dez Bryant 159 times in 2013. The top playmaker on the team deserves more opportunities to make plays.
Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard can also help contribute for the Cowboys
Wideout Michael Gallup missed eight games due to injuries in 2021. Only three seasons ago, he had 1,107 receiving yards and six touchdowns. A healthy season with an increased role should inch him closer to that mark. About 100 targets, up from 62 last year, is certainly realistic once the receiver gets healthy.
America’s Team fields one of the more efficient players in Tony Pollard. After three seasons sitting behind running back Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard needs to get a more prominent role in the team’s offense.
A larger role as a receiver and more handoffs for the Memphis product is in store. His targets should increase from 46 to 60, and rushing attempts should jump from 130 to 150. The 34 extra touches are a bare minimum, but Pollard could see even more if he is healthy.
No. 20 deserves more touches, but Elliott also had his second-lowest number next to his suspension-shortened 2017 season. It’s hard for me to see the Cowboys giving Zeke fewer than 300 touches in a 17-game season. That would be 16 more than last year.
These Cowboys are more than capable of being productive without Cooper. No single player will replace him; instead, it will be a group effort. The offense for America’s Team will not be the same unless someone can step up and create space without getting the ball as Cooper did. You can look at Lamb or Pollard being those guys, but I would look at someone else.
Between these four players, that’s a combined 108 targets allocated elsewhere. An increased role for each player would more than cover for what Cooper provided for the Cowboys, at least regarding touches. The Cowboys do have a roster that can make up for Cooper’s loss. These four players just need to step up when given those opportunities.