Something was clearly not right with Amari Cooper since the start of the 2017 season. He was injured in training camp, gained weight, and then started dropping passes at an alarming rate.
That was the season he was supposed to fix his issues with a lack of physicality and to get Derek Carr to trust him more as a red zone target. After all, he had never caught a pass with the offense inside the ten-yard-line. That’s not normal for a player who is supposed to be the team’s number one receiver.
From the way Amari Cooper tells it, being traded by the Raiders to the Cowboys a month ago was a wake-up call for him.
“I wasn’t really happy in Oakland or anything like that. But when I sat and thought about it [Monday] night … ” Cooper told Yahoo! Sports this week. “I thought about the fact that they traded me away. I don’t know how to feel about it.”
The trade was lauded by most, including this site, because of the first round pick compensation for a player who was clearly underachieving in Oakland. That first round pick compensation looked like it could be potentially in the top ten because the Cowboys had a losing record (3-4) at the time they made the trade.
Since Cooper joined the team, however, the Cowboys have turned things around. Cooper scored a touchdown in his first quarter of action in Dallas, after having scored just one touchdown in six games this season in Oakland. And now the Cowboys are on a three-game win streak, culminating in a stellar performance by Cooper on Thanksgiving, catching 8 passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Cooper looks like a new player in Dallas. None of the disappearing acts he had in Oakland the past two seasons. He has 22 catches for 349 yards in four games. If he keeps up that pace, he will surpass 1000 yards (1065) for the first time since 2016 (1153). Which is fitting he looks a lot like the player he was in 2016.
“Just reflecting on my last four games here (in Dallas) and my personality here, I feel like it did change me, as far as having that chip on my shoulder,” Cooper continued. “Not that I wasn’t passionate before, but playing with more passion, trying to intentionally have fun out there. It definitely has changed me, in terms of me going out there and just having fun with it.”
Coop has always said he is a passionate person. But if he was passionate, he sure hides it well. Most times, it looks like he barely has a pulse.
It’s pretty clear that this trade can’t be looked at with regret if you’re the Raiders. Clearly this was the best thing for Cooper. He may be playing well now, but he wouldn’t be doing this for the Raiders. There isn’t much fun being had in Oakland and he was going through the motions.
Yeah, it probably sucks from a fan perspective that it took this move for Coop to wake up, but it did. And even a low first round pick is still better than holding onto a receiver who just wasn’t playing up to his potential.