Jaylen Waddle contract proves Cowboys fumbled the bag with Amari Cooper

Trading Amari Cooper continues to age horribly for the Cowboys.
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

It's open for interpretation where CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks rank in terms of the NFL's top wide receiver duos. They probably fall somewhere in the top 10. While there's something to be said for that, it wasn't long ago that the Dallas Cowboys boasted one of the very best WR rooms in the game.

For reasons Cowboys fans may never comprehend, the team traded away Amari Cooper after the 2021 season. Despite moving to a run-first Browns offense and falling victim to wonky quarterback play, Cooper has been a revelation for Cleveland with 2,410 yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons.

Many theories have been brought to the table in terms of why the Cowboys traded Cooper. Some believe it was his opposition to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. At the end of the day, though, the decision boiled down to what it always does with Jerry Jones: money.

As the wide receiver market has evolved, trading Cooper looks increasingly foolish. The latest evidence arrived when the Dolphins and Jaylen Waddle agreed to a three-year, $84.75 million extension that includes $76 million guaranteed.

Jaylen Waddle extension furthere proves Cowboys screwed up with Amari Cooper

Waddle's extension makes him one of the five highest-paid receivers in football. It also means the Dolphins are paying two receivers (Tyreek Hill being the other) at least $20 million per year. In fact, Miami is now the fifth (!) team that has committed $20 million annually to two receivers.

The Eagles are paying A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith $32 million and $25 million, respectively. The Texans are paying Nico Collins ($24.25 million) and Stefon Diggs ($22.35 million). The Bears have D.J. Moore ($20.628 million) and Keenan Allen ($20.025 million) on the books for at least $20 million. Finally, the Bucs have Mike Evans under contract for $20.5 milion and Chris Godwin for an even $20 million.

Care to guess how much the Cowboys would have paid Cooper for the 2022 season? That would be $20 million. The Browns restructured Coopers contract once the trade was completed, so he'll earn $20 million this upcoming season. That makes him the 19th highest-paid receiver, which is a bargain.

The Cowboys could have restructured Cooper and be in the same spot Cleveland is in. Or, they could have honored his 2022 salary and negotiated an extension the following offseason for an AAV slightly north of $20 million. That would've aged beautifully given how many WRs have signed new deals since.

And yes, Dallas would've had plenty of room to extend Lamb. The Eagles have several players at marquee positions making top-of-the-market money. It's possible (clearly), but Jerry Jones banked on Michael Gallup to rebound from his torn ACL while making $6.5 million less per year than Cooper.

This is yet another example of Jones trying to be smartest guy in the room. It backfired beyond comprehension and to make matters worse he's waited until the eleventh hour to get Lamb's extension done.

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