Making Another Run At Cooper | Washington Commanders


By Adam Aniba


Washington heads into free agency with over $31 million in cap space and the potential to gain more room with contract restructures/releases. On the other side of the coin, their rival, Dallas Cowboys, are over the cap limit by more than $21 million dollars.


Although Dallas will attempt to restructure contracts for additional cap room, cuts will have to be made and it likely starts with wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Dallas receiver accounts for $22 million, against this seasons cap, with identical number counting for the '23 and '24 seasons.


Dallas reportedly will prioritize re-signing Randy Gregory and Michael Gallup, in addition to restructuring Ezekiel Elliott who carries an $18.2 million cap hit.


With no cap relief in sight and an apparent unwillingness to restructure, Cooper is about to become the hottest commodity in free agency.




Making Another Run

In his first season as Washington head coach, Ron Rivera made signing a blue chip receiver, to pair with Terry McLaurin, his top priority. Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper would be Rivera's target in '20, but Cooper opted to stay in Dallas for less money, while also reaping the benefits of Texas being a state without income tax.


Cooper signed a 5-year, $100 million LTD that included $60 million in guarantees, which was supposed to keep the former Alabama star in Dallas through '24.


Rivera was clearly disheartened when questioned by the local media about the failed bid for Cooper, despite offering the Dallas receiver $10 million more than he signed for.

"Amari is someone we chased, and we chased very hard all the way up to the very end when he decided to return to Dallas. We were in it. We were talking about a substantial amount of money. We would've loved to have him, have him as a part of what we're trying to do. We believe he'd have been a great veteran presence in the room, especially for those young guys, the young guys who played last year and had success for this football team. So, you'd have felt good about having a veteran guy like that who's had success in this league as part of what you're trying to do."

Although Washington signed receiver, Curtis Samuel last season and McLaurin is up for a contract extension, adding another weapon would only benefit the incoming QB. Cooper will be in high demand and seeking a team with an established signal caller will surely be a big factor in his decision.


The receiver would also be wise to evaluate the current situation in Washington. Playing alongside McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas and an offensive line that looks to take the next jump, should be enticing.


Some will question how they can afford Cooper, Samuel and re-sign McLaurin. Fear not, Washington has been one of the better teams, over the years in regards to salary cap structure and this is a move Dan Snyder would likely get behind after a letdown '21 season.



Young & Productive

At only 27 years old, Cooper wouldn't just be a move for the present, but a move that would help develop a rookie QB, if that's the route Washington takes. As far as production goes, Cooper has had his best 3-year stretch while in Dallas, totalling 3,168 receiving yards and 26 scores.


With his QB, Dak Prescott, only playing in 5 games in '20, Cooper set a career high with 92 receptions, while putting up 1,114 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. Some have pointed to '21 as a down year for Cooper who recorded 865 yds receiving for 8 tds.


Looking at the numbers, the Cowboys spread the ball around with CeeDee Lamb (79 rec 1,102 yards), Dalton Schultz (78 rec 808 yards), Cedrick Wilson (45 rec 602 yards), Michael Gallup (9 games 62 rec 445 yards) in addition to Elliott & Pollard accounting for 133 receptions.


Cooper is showing no signs of decline and his 12.7 yards per reception speaks to that point. Ron Rivera is in a pivotal year, with the team desperately needing to address the QB position, and this offense needs more impact pass catchers.


WIth Washington likely to lose multiple receivers in free agency, including pass catching back, J.D. McKissic, they'll need find help quickly. It's imperative that they utilize free agency and the draft to supplement their losses, at a minimum.


The potential cost for Amari Cooper will, once again, fall in the $20 million a year range. In a season in which Washington turns the page with a new name, but is still dealing with off-the-field drama, a splash signing involving Cooper would definitely change the trajectory of the upcoming season and beyond.


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