The Dallas Cowboys reportedly are done with Amari Cooper. Could the veteran wideout find a home with the New England Patriots?
With Dallas “likely” to release Cooper in the coming days, according to multiple reports last week, here’s a look at why the five-time Pro Bowler would — and wouldn’t — make sense for the receiver-needy Patriots.
CASE FOR SIGNING
Cooper isn’t in the top echelon of NFL wide receivers, but he’s not far behind. He’s surpassed 1,000 yards in five of his seven pro seasons, and his 46 career touchdown catches rank ninth in the league since 2015. He’d instantly become New England’s No. 1 wideout, shifting Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne into supporting roles (and potentially prompting the trade/release of Nelson Agholor).
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Cooper has good size and the ability to play either outside (70% of his snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus) or in the slot (30%). He’s also an elite route-runner, has cleaned up the drop issues that dogged him early in his career (just three in each of the last two seasons, per PFF) and still is a reasonably young player, turning 28 in June. Plus, there’s the Alabama connection, with Cooper playing his college ball under Bill Belichick buddy Nick Saban.
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick explained over the weekend why Cooper would be a good fit for New England.
“I think this has New England Patriots written all over it ’cause they really need someone who has No. 1-wide receiver capability in the form of Amari Cooper,” Riddick said on “SportsCenter.” “… New England usually pulls it out of people in a way that many other people aren’t able to.
“Look, for Mac Jones, this would be the perfect kind of weapon he needs on the outside to go along with a very strong running game and one of the best receiving tight ends in Hunter Henry.”
CASE AGAINST SIGNING
Money, money, money.
Recent reports have suggested Cooper, who was set to earn a $20 million salary with the Cowboys next season, should command close to that on the open market. That’s far too pricey for the Patriots, who currently have less than $10 million in available salary cap space. New England has ways of increasing that number — and surely will utilize them as they construct their 2022 roster — but shelling out in the neighborhood of $20 million for a second-tier receiver isn’t feasible after they already spent massively in free agency last offseason.
You also could easily argue that Cooper isn’t worth that financial commitment given his lack of consistency. This season, he posted his lowest reception (65), yardage (865) and catch rate (65.4%) marks since 2017, fading behind second-year pro CeeDee Lamb in Dallas’ star-studded passing attack.
If Cooper’s market doesn’t materialize as anticipated, he’d be a worthwhile addition for the Patriots receiving corps that lacks a true No. 1. But not at his expected price tag.