Just about everyone applauded the way the Oakland Raiders managed to finesse a first round draft pick out of the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for WR Amari Cooper. Cooper had been playing decent football with the Raiders, having a couple of games going over 100+ receiving yards, but the inconsistencies hesitated fans from warranting praise.
It was a large step back from the Amari Cooper that we knew was coming into the season. It looked like a smart move for both Cooper and the Raiders organization, with Cooper needing a fresh start and the organization wanting to bring in some new blood into a stale receiving core.
After being able to study the Cowboys playbook, Cooper had what could be said as a serviceable first three games: 14 receptions, 170 yards and a touchdown. It meant that Cooper saw his fair share of the action, but it just wasn’t worth the first round pick. That all may have just changed after his second half against Washington on Thanksgiving Day.
Two touchdown receptions, as well as two massive gains of 40 and 90 yards, led Cooper and the Cowboys to a 31-23 win at home against the now-desperate Redskins. His impact in the second half, as well as knowledge of how to take on former college teammate in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, made him impossible to handle. Dallas needed an impact player to take the pressure off of Ezekiel Elliott, and it seems that Cooper now might be the man for the job.
Now that Cooper is starting to settle and find a rhythm that is akin to his 2016 year at Oakland, the Cowboys will be licking their lips at the chance to build around a strong attacking core. Prescott and Elliott will be mainstays for years to come, and while Cooper is still only 24, he brings a wealth of experience to the team. It has been noticed that Cooper has slid into form, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stating that Cooper could be in for a big pay day down the line.
It was already known that the receiver would get around $13 million next year out of the contract with Dallas, but with more games such as this recent performance, Cooper could very well jump his asking price.
It’s no secret that Dallas wants to keep the former Pro Bowl player within the regime, with Jones seemingly willing to cater to the new target. It’ll assist the likes of Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley with their games, because Cooper will draw more attention to his routes. It allows for weaker defenders to be matched up on the other receivers, which could cause havoc as we move towards the playoffs.
Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott will also benefit, as the acquisition of Cooper allows for a larger rotation of three receiver plays. The blocking here will help the already-phenomenal runner in Elliott to find more free space and tear teams apart with consistent ease.
We saw on Thursday that Cooper can be the deep threat we all know of, as well as a reliable source for Prescott to give short passes to and move the chains. More of the same is going to be expected now, but a main target will give Prescott the confidence to throw further downfield and to trust his receivers to make the plays they need.
It is also a big help in justifying the lofty price tag that was a first round pick. If the Cowboys are able to continue their winning form and get towards the second week of the playoffs, that pick very quickly goes from a low teen pick to a 20-25 pick that went away. It’s still a high price, just it won’t be as costly as first thought.
The bar has been set now, and Amari Cooper will fit in with Dallas. He must keep up performances like that against Washington to prove his worth.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Ron Jenkins