Amari Cooper resigns with the Dallas Cowboys. After securing Dak Prescott for at least 2020 with the exclusive franchise tag earlier in the day, the Dallas Cowboys prevented Amari Cooper from leaving via free agency later Monday with a five-year, $100 million deal. The Cowboys’ goal of keeping Prescott and Cooper was made somewhat more difficult with the passing over the weekend of the new collective bargaining agreement, which allows them to use just one tag, rather than two. To keep both players, the Cowboys made Cooper the second-highest-paid receiver in the NFL in annual average, after Atlanta’s Julio Jones, who makes $22 million per season. Amari Cooper’s deal includes $60 million guaranteed. The Washington Redskins pursued Cooper earlier Monday and tried to pry him away before Dallas re-signed him. Dallas was one of the many destinations that I had Cooper signing.
Last summer, the Cowboys made Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid running back, and in order to get Prescott to sign a long-term deal, they might have to make him the highest-paid quarterback in the game, surpassing the $35 million per season of Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Under franchise tag rules, the Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Prescott to a multiyear contract, or he will have to play the season under the tag. By placing the exclusive tag, which is expected to be worth $30 million to $33 million, on Prescott, the Cowboys have prevented other teams from signing him. This is the fourth time since 2014 that the Cowboys have used the franchise designation, and it’s the first time they have used it on a quarterback.
In 2015, the Cowboys used the tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant, but they were able to sign him to a five-year, $70 million deal before the July 15 deadline. They placed the tag on defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018 and 2019 before signing the Pro Bowler to a five-year, $105 million deal in April 2019. Last offseason, Dallas hoped to sign Prescott to an extension that would have guaranteed him nine figures, but the quarterback bet on himself, choosing to play for $2 million in 2019. He responded with career highs in yards (4,902) and touchdown passes (30). Cooper made $13.9 million last season on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, but the two sides didn’t really engage in contract discussions until recently.
After his arrival from the Raiders in a trade for a first-round pick in the middle of the 2018 season, Cooper helped transform the passing game for the Cowboys. In 2019, he caught 79 passes for 1,189 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. He was added to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. Cooper, who turns 26 on June 17, was on pace for one of the best seasons by a receiver in team history through the first nine games of the previous season, including a 226-yard effort against Green Bay, but then his numbers trailed off significantly. Cooper caught just 26 passes for 341 yards and a touchdown in the final seven games and was held without a catch vs. the New England Patriots in Week 12 for the first time since he joined Dallas.
The Prescott-to-Cooper connection has been one of the best in the NFL since they became a tandem. On multiple occasions, both players said they wanted to sign long-term with the Cowboys.
This was the right move by Dallas in resigning Amari Cooper. Ever since he was traded to Dallas from Oakland, Cooper has reignited the offense. The Cowboys still need to find a way to sign Dak to a long-term deal. With the combination of Prescott, Elliott and Cooper, Dallas have a great trio signed for the foreseeable future. Seeing Amari Cooper resigns is a step in the right direction.