Why did Cowboys let go of Amari Cooper? Revisiting ex-Dallas WR's trade to Cleveland Browns
The Dallas Cowboys let go of Amari Cooper to save some much-needed cap space ahead of the 2022 NFL season.
Dallas was already saddled with the exorbitant contract of Ezekiel Elliott, but the wide receiver was deep enough to take the talent hit for the Cowboys. CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup (when the latter gets healthy) can shoulder the targets for the Cowboys.
Cooper signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Cowboys in 2020 that the team didn't feel comfortable keeping on the books. Trading Cooper would have incurred a cap hit of $6 million for the Cowboys, whereas keeping him would have brought a $22 million impact.
The Cowboys were already at the mercy of a few big contracts, such as Elliott ($18.22 million in 2022), DeMarcus Lawrence ($14 million), Zack Martin ($12 million) and Dalton Schultz ($10.9 million). Cutting Cooper loose saved the Cowboys money while not hurting them as much positionally as trying to move on from one of the other players.
While the loss of Cooper hurt the fanbase, there was no doubt that the team would need to cut one or two stars ahead of the season. With the presence of CeeDee Lamb, it was a no-brainer that Cooper would be the one getting shipped off. It was the right decision, as the Cowboys performed better than in the 2021 season when Cooper was WR1.
How did Amari Cooper perform in Dallas?
Amari Cooper was elite in Dallas, with the Alabama Crimson Tide alum having just one season where he received for less than 1,000 yards.
He put up a stat line of 1,189 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his first season with the Cowboys in 2019. The 2020 NFL season was a little more subdued, but Cooper still broke out for 1,114 receiving yards and five touchdowns, leading the Cowboys in both categories.
However, his 2021 NFL season left much to be desired, as he posted career lows in all significant wide receiver statistical categories. He was promptly traded to the Cleveland Browns during the 2022 NFL off-season.
How did Amari Cooper perform in 2022 NFL season?
For the first time in five years, Amari Cooper played an NFL game without the famous Cowboys star on his helmet. However, you wouldn't have known, as Cooper played like he had something to prove.
He was among the few bright spots in a forlorn 2022 NFL season in Cleveland, as Cooper almost singlehandedly dragged the team to the postseason. He did that despite having a revolving door of shot callers at the center. He ended the 2022 NFL season with 1,160 passing yards and nine touchdowns in 17 games.