The Dallas Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick in the NFL Draft on Oct. 21. Reactions to this deal varied, since there were fans that believed Dallas’ first-rounder was too much to give, yet others thought the deal matched the needs of both teams.
Cooper, a 24-year-old wide receiver, has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice so far in his career. In his first two years in the league, Cooper accumulated over 2,200 receiving yards and over 150 receptions.
Oakland appears to be aiming their franchise in a new direction under the guidance of Jon Gruden, their head coach who received a 10-year, $100 million contract over the summer. Their 1-5 start to the regular season signals a rebuilding era, with the scouting department having an assortment of picks to work with in the upcoming drafts.
As they traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears and Cooper to Dallas, the Raiders brought in three additional first-round picks, an third-round pick and a sixth-round pick in the next two drafts. Fans in Oakland may not be in favor of this plan but it is clear that their costly new head coach envisions a different direction.
As for Dallas, their dealing of a first-round pick for Amari Cooper signals a heightened sense of boldness in their front-office.
Over the past decade and change, Dallas has had a trend of over-valuing their draft picks in relation to NFL players, but the owners, Jerry and Stephen Jones, recognized the team’s needs and deviated from this trend. Coach Jason Garrett emphasized Cooper’s youth and his skill-set as primary reasons for acquiring him.
Cooper is only six months older than Calvin Ridley, the rookie wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons that Dallas had on their draft board. However, the major difference between Cooper and Ridley is their salary cap hit.
In 2019, Cooper will have a fully-guaranteed salary of $13.924 million, but if Dallas selected Ridley in the 2018 draft, they would have him for four years with an $11.8 million cap hit.
In the offseason, the lack of wide receiver depth on the roster did not worry the coaches, nor did it worry the team’s quarterback, Dak Prescott. They believed that Ezekiel Elliott’s running ability matched with the star-studded offensive line was enough to not make the wide receiver position a priority on the roster.
However, through the first seven weeks of the season, Dallas’ top three wide receivers, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, have combined for 698 receiving yards, which would place them behind receivers Adam Thielen (822), Julio Jones (812) and Deandre Hopkins (707) individually.
With the youth and talent on both sides of the ball and an increase in their cap after this season, Dallas could quickly become an elite team in the league again.
But if the team struggles to succeed, this youthful era could be wasted and questions about the competency of the front office and coaches would have to be objectively answered.