FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys managed to get something for Amari Cooper, but it's not much. The four-time Pro Bowler has been traded to the Cleveland Browns, in a deal that will net the Cowboys some draft capital.
Dallas will receive the Browns fifth round pick, and will swap sixth round selections with the Browns, according to multiple reports, including ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Cowboys were likely to release Cooper before the start of the league year, if they couldn't find a trade partner. In that circumstance, they would've gotten nothing for Cooper's departure.
The Cowboys are now off the hook for Cooper's $20 million payout and similarly save as much against the salary cap, per Over The Cap.
Cooper spent most of four seasons with the Cowboys, coming to Dallas in a mid-season trade in 2018. He instantly rejuvenated a stagnant offense, helping the Cowboys to finish that 2018 season with a 7-1 record, to win the NFC East, and make the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Cooper caught 292 receptions for 3893 yards and 27 touchdowns during his time with Dallas.
The Cowboys traded a first round pick for Cooper in 2018, sending what turned out to be the 27th selection in the 2019 draft to the Raiders.
Cooper joins a Browns team in dire need of a top-end wide receiver. Odell Beckham, Jr. was traded to the Rams during the season, and Jarvis Landry has seen his production steadily drop off in the last two years.
Cooper's production also declined in 2021. After catching 92 balls for 1,114 yards in 2020, he caught 24 fewer passes for 249 fewer yards. He did see an uptick in touchdowns though, from five to eight.
As the Cowboys' 2021 regular season wound down, and the club wrapped up the NFC East with a 12-5 record, Cooper talked openly about his role within the offense.
"I think everybody on the team is fully confident in their ability to go out there and make a play when the team needs them to make a play," Cooper told reporters on Jan. 13, three days before Dallas' 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC wild-card. "So that's what I want my role to be. When my name is called, whatever opportunity is presented to me, I'm going to go out there and take full advantage of it."
Cooper caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in the playoff loss.
The former 2015 fourth overall selection preferred to get the ball early in games as any receiver would, but added it wasn't an excuse for poor performance.
Said Cooper: "If your first catch or first opportunity to get the ball is late in the second or in the third quarter, you don't have any rhythm for real. But that's no excuse. At the end of the day, you've still got to go out there and make that play. That's why you're a professional. That's why you get paid to play the game. From experience, you can ask any offensive player: it's better when we get the ball in our hands early."
The Cowboys have 2020 first-round pick CeeDee Lamb poised to take over the No. 1 spot. Dallas is also seeking to bring back receiver Michael Gallup, who is set to hit free agency while rehabbing from a torn ACL.