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  • Amari Cooper Likely to be Cut or Traded: What’s next?

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    The Dallas Cowboys are “likely” cutting Amari Cooper. How will that impact the roster and the looming offseason decisions?


    With ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that the Dallas Cowboys are expected to release Amari Cooper, it’s fair to question the fallout of the decision.

    Dallas is “likely” to release the 27-year-old receiver who finished 2021 with 865 receiving yards, his lowest since 2017. The team will also try to trade Cooper according to NFL Network. It’s a tremendous fall from grace after an impressive 2019 season and a solid 2020 season sans Dak Prescott for most of it.

    It’s not an indictment on the talent, although it came too sparingly too often. But it’s also not without reason. Around 30% of Cooper’s receiving yards came in Weeks 1 (139) and 7 (122). Those were also his only 100+ receiving-yard games last season.

    What’s next for Cooper?

    Regardless of Cooper’s disappointing season, he should still see a robust free agency market. Teams should be chomping at the bit to sign a four-time Pro Bowl receiver in the prime of his career. Cooper’s free agency gambit is risky, but fantasy owners should expect a hefty contract to sweeten the release’s bitter taste.

    A deal worth $16 million annually — give or take — can be expected given his age and historical production. Teams with younger receiving cores, like Miami, Detroit, and Chicago, all make sense for possible landing spots.

    For fantasy, Cooper would be a welcome target for Justin Fields as he offers the highest ceiling. Cooper’s inconsistencies may remain a problem wherever he goes, but the upside of Fields can help mask that problem — if the former Buckeye can make the leap.

    Treat Cooper as a low-end WR2 for dynasty purposes, as free agency can be perilous. Owners are likely holding firm as the value continues to dip, which is the correct course of action. His value will rise again with the emergence of a new contract.

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    What’s next for the Cowboys?

    CeeDee Lamb, who already led the team with 1,102 receiving yards, will step into the offseason as the de facto WR1. That’s how he should be treated both in real life and fantasy, as the volume should be there for Lamb in a pass-friendly offense.

    Lamb is also just that good, constantly flashing a creative blend of body control and versatility that the Cowboys would be wise to expand upon. With the offense centered around Lamb, it would make perfect sense for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to use his beloved motions with Lamb far more often. Getting an athlete like him into space can only benefit the entire team.

    When talent and opportunity mesh, beautiful things can happen. Treating Lamb like a top-six dynasty WR tied with a steady quarterback is the right course of action. Beyond Lamb, there are a lot of questions.

    Losing Cooper is obviously a hit to Prescott’s value, as the Dallas receiving room suddenly feels empty. Both Cedrick Wilson and Michael Gallup, who finished third and fourth among Cowboys receivers in yardage, respectively, are unrestricted free agents. So is Dalton Schultz, whose career-high 808 receiving yards ranked third on the team and sixth among all tight ends.

    Right now, other rostered receivers aside from Lamb include Noah Brown and Malik Turner, who combined for 333 yards and zero touchdowns in 2021. Their career receiving yards put together (839) is less than Cooper’s down 2021 season.

    The obvious course of action is to franchise tag Schultz for an expected $11 million. Between the looming injury concerns of Blake Jarwin and Schultz’s production in 2021, this is a no-brainer. Schultz was a top-three fantasy TE and can still provide similar value in 2022. He served as Prescott’s most trusted target, emphasized by a stellar 118.6 passer rating when targeted in 2021.

    It’s fair to treat him like the strong asset he is and is worth a buy while his value dangles in free agency. I would be shocked if the Cowboys let him walk. The Cowboys will likely resign either Gallup or Wilson.

    The former was a better prospect but is dealing with a torn ACL, and the latter largely served as a special teamer with offensive flashes. Reports indicate the team is close to bring back Gallup at an affordable rate, especially when compared to Cooper’s deal. Room can be created for both through contract renegotiations, like changing DeMarcus Lawrence’s $27 million cap hit into more guaranteed money down the line in 2023.

    Wilson should be back on a team-friendly deal, which would make him a boom-bust WR4/FLEX at best. I’d tentatively expect Gallup to walk, but his ACL injury makes his market a true question mark. The Cowboys have already voiced their desire to have him back. However, money always speaks louder than words. Dallas will likely look to the draft either on day one or two to find a WR2 opposing Lamb.

    It’s worth noting that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does have several connections to Arkansas dating back to his days there himself that could make Treylon Burks — one of the most impressive receivers of the class — an enticing pick. However, it would likely require a trade-up from number 24. Guys like USC’s Drake London, Purdue’s David Bell, or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson would be more readily available.


    Thank you for checking out my article! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys’ author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Michael__Sicoli and @IDPGuys (we have offense too) and please check out our website at idpguys.org.

    Michael Sicoli

    A dynasty enthusiast and fantasy football addict, there's not much more I'd prefer to write about. I'm a New Yorker at a Connecticut university -- Quinnipiac -- who's a firm believer that the NFL doesn't have an offseason.

    Discussion

    1. […] reports surfaced that Amari Cooper was set to be cut or traded from the Dallas Cowboys, it didn’t take long for the wide receiver to find a new home in the AFC […]

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