Philadelphia Eagles: Does Amari Cooper make the Cowboys better?

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

When the price isn’t worth the potential

By Justin Bonner

Typically, I enjoy when other teams in the NFC East make questionable player decisions. I enjoy it, even more, when it involves the Dallas Cowboys. But in some cases, the hatred and volatility typically aimed a rival franchise must be put aside for the purpose of quality analysis. This is one of those cases.

But before diving into the news that broke only hours ago, I just have one question: What in all of creation is Jerry World thinking?

With the Cowboys agreeing to send their first-round pick, likely a top ten pick to be clear, to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Amari Cooper, one can’t help but think that Jerry Jones might finally be losing his mind. Yes, The Cowboys need some help at Receiver, and yes, Cooper can probably help them. But first round picks are like gold in the NFL, and they are rarely traded away. Sometimes teams will swap first-round picks at the draft, or a team will trade for a young quarterback they think can become the new face of their franchise.

The Cowboys didn’t do that here though. What they did was trade away their coveted first round pick for a player that John Gruden clearly didn’t view as part of the future of the Raiders, a guy he willing to move on from. It’s not hard to see why, either. The 24-year-old Cooper was drafted to be the Raider’s top offensive threat, and thus far, he’s looked like at most a good, but not great pass catcher.

Cooper is not without talent, but the level of hype that’s surrounded him since breaking out in 2015 just hasn’t matched the on-field production. Since being drafted in 2015, Cooper has 19 touchdowns and 225 receptions. Not bad, but certainly not elite level or even number one level production. But in 2015 and 2016, Cooper amassed a whopping 262 targets, 2223 yards and 11 touchdowns, good enough to get him selected to the pro bowl in both years. Those first two years certainly showed that Cooper could play at a high level. But the problem is that Cooper fell off hard in 2017, and so far in 2018 still does not appear to be that same player that broke onto the scene with such tenacity.

In 2017, Cooper amassed only 680 yards despite finding the end zone 7 times. His targets dropped down from 132 the year before to 96, and his catch percentage plummeted from 63 to 50. His receptions fell from 83 to 48, nearly cut in half. So far in 2018, Cooper has 22 receptions and 280 yards. He’s on pace for nearly identical numbers.

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Cleary, the Cowboys are hoping to be able to cash in on what Cooper has shown in the past, pairing him with Dak Prescott in the hopes that they can both find chemistry together. It’s easy to see why Jones would be enticed by a three-headed monster of Prescott, Cooper, and Zeke Elliott, but a first round pick is still too high a price to pay for a player who has been in decline for two years.