In early March, the Dallas Cowboys traded their WR1 Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Both Stephen and Jerry Jones had expressed their displeasure with the wide receiver, saying he wasn’t performing well enough for the five-year, $100 million contract extension they’d given him in 2020. The Joneses didn’t feel Cooper was worth $20 million a year and the idea that he could be a cap casualty was very clear.
This all happened before the wide receiver market boomed even higher than it was before. When Dallas traded with Cleveland, they did free up a lot of cap space. There is no taking that away from the front office. However, what people have tried to grapple with over the last five months is the fact that all the Cowboys got in return for a former first-round pick was essentially a fifth-round pick — unless you’re a huge believer in the value of a sixth-round pick swap, allowing Dallas to move up in the late rounds.
After seeing what Cooper’s wide receiver peers signed for weeks after he was traded to the Browns, $20 million doesn’t seem like a lot to spend. Although they were certainly better than Cooper in 2021, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill are both making over $28 million a year. Commanders WR Terry McLaurin (who had fewer touchdowns in more games played than Cooper last season) is now making over $23 million a year.
So, yes. The Cowboys did save cap space. But what they got for a top receiver in the NFL in a WR market that is larger than ever before was essentially pennies.
Now, the Cowboys are seeing their rival Philadelphia Eagles get way more for way less, too. On Wednesday, the Eagles traded WR Jalen Reagor to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick.
We know some Cowboys fans are going to lose their marbles over the fact that Reagor was only carrying the value of a rookie contract and Cooper had a $20 million salary. But the Eagles still got more capital for a guy Howie Roseman clearly didn’t want than Dallas did for someone who is arguably still a top 10 receiver in the NFL.
As far as numbers go, Cooper is a seven-year veteran with four Pro Bowls, 108 games played, and 46 touchdowns. The new Viking has two years of experience, zero Pro Bowls, 28 games played, and three total touchdowns. Yet, the Eagles got more for Reagor and are still paying big bucks for their new top WR A.J. Brown, shoring up their WR room.
Eagles got more in the Jalen Reagor trade than the Cowboys did for Amari Cooper
Here’s an important point about how this all went down. Back in January, teams knew that the Cowboys were frustrated with Cooper because the Joneses spoke about it publicly. Franchises were starting to perk up and realize they could perhaps get a good deal on a top receiver.
The Eagles GM, on the other hand, leveraged a guy who he didn’t really want without boasting to the world that he wasn’t what they expected him to be. Roseman continued to talk about Reagor’s value the day before the trade when the team decided to put the young receiver on the 53-man roster.
Unlike the Joneses, Roseman played it cool. He knew he made a mistake with Reagor, so he fixed it.
The fact that the Eagles got anything for Reagor let alone two draft picks shows just how masterful Roseman is. He’s been non-stop for Philly this offseason. We never like to compliment our rival, but the Eagles are doing great business right now. They see problems and they get them fixed. They make moves instead of sitting idly by hoping what’s there works. The same can’t necessarily be said for the Cowboys.