Sunday marked Amari Cooper’s 16th game with the Cowboys. Over the past 24 hours or so, a great many NFL folks have noted Cooper’s outstanding stat line over what would constitute a full season of football in Dallas. These stats are presented often without context and other times with the idea that the Raiders made a big mistake in trading away the 23-year-old receiver.
I said at the time of the trade that it was a win for the Raiders while the jury was out on how the Cowboys came out in it. Six weeks later, the jury convened and the verdict was that it was a win-win. And that’s still the case.
You can’t judge the trade based solely on what Coop has done since leaving the Raiders. Mainly because it doesn’t take a hypothetical to say he would not have done the same with the Raiders. He never did the same with the Raiders.
Coop played all 16 games in both of his first two seasons in Oakland and played in 14 games his third season. His best numbers in any of those seasons was still well short of the numbers he has put up with the Cowboys since he was traded.
Prior to being traded, he was on pace for his worst season as a pro, which was saying a lot considering he was coming off a season in which he had just 48 catches for 680 yards. And that was on 96 targets, so he caught just 50% of the passes his way.
His poor numbers may not have been entirely his fault, but none of that matters. That’s what trades are for. A player doesn’t fit with your team and another team thinks they will fit better with them, so they go get them. In this case, a first round pick was more valuable to the Raiders than what they were getting from Coop.
That first round pick went from a potentially top ten pick when Coop was traded to the 27th overall pick after Cooper helped them to go on a playoff run. But it’s still a first round pick and the fact still remains that Coop was not performing at a first round pick level.
Another major factor here in judging Coop is that he is in a contract year. That’s not to say he is playing well just to get paid — I certainly don’t think that — but he WILL get paid. And he has played at such a level that at his young age, he will become the highest paid receiver in football. That’s just how these things work. That would have him making over $22 million per season. And either the Cowboys pay up, or they will have sent a first round pick out the door for a year and a half rental.
Even Coop had stayed in Oakland and not put up these kind of numbers, he would have been asking to get paid and it would have been a near certainty that that big contract would have come from another team. Simply because — like the trade — his value was still being perceived in potential. Potential that could only be realized with a change of scenery.
So, the Raiders cut bait a year and a half early so they could re-’Coop’ a first round pick instead of holding onto an underachieving and unhappy receiver for a short time later when he would be gone anyway.
All the discussion of who won the trade is missing the more important question here. That is WHY would Cooper need to leave the Raiders to play up to his potential? Those who would prefer not to consider any fault lies in the Raiders would suggest that Cooper “didn’t want to be here”. That he “never wanted to be here”. But if you’d prefer not to dabble in unprovable character questions like that, the only other logical explanations are either coaching issues and quarterback issues.
Derek Carr has been his quarterback the entire time in Oakland, so could he be the problem? The Raiders had three different offensive coordinators in Coop’s 3.5 seasons in Oakland, so could that have been the problem? Those are the questions that should be asked. Not who won the trade. Both teams got what they wanted out of it.
Has Amari Cooper’s big numbers in Dallas changed your opinion on the trade?
This poll is closed
Yes, I wish Raiders had not made the trade
Yes, I am even more glad they made the trade now
No, I hated it then because I knew this would happen
No, I like it then and like it still