- Dallas Cowboys
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Indianapolis Colts
- Chicago Bears
- Washington Commanders
According to multiple reports, the Dallas Cowboys are “likely” to release star wide receiver Amari Cooper before the start of the new league year. Cooper is guaranteed a healthy $20 million on March 20, a date that may represent a merciless timeline for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are unfortunately preparing to enter a cost-cutting offseason. The Cowboys are currently slated to be $21.1 million over the 2022 salary cap, via Spotrac, and must get creative while trying to create financial breathing room, hence the untimely news regarding Cooper’s potential release. Releasing Cooper would create $16 million in cap space. Several key Cowboys players are also set to reach free agency, including Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz and Cedrick Wilson, and some reports indicate the Cowboys could free up the funds necessary to retain these players by parting ways with Cooper.
Should Cooper reach the open market, he would add to a potentially intriguing and historic group of available pass-catchers that currently includes Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, and Mike Williams. Still just 27 years of age, Cooper remains in the prime of his career. His abilities have nothing to do with his potential release. Over the previous three full seasons as a Cowboy, Cooper has recorded an astounding 239 receptions for 3,168 yards and 21 touchdowns in 47 regular-season appearances.
Cooper is a consistent performer that would immediately become the WR1 for most teams in the league. We’ve identified five franchises that should have immediate interest in securing Cooper’s services.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The Raiders could certainly use a bonafide No. 1 receiver for their new-look offense. Head coach Josh McDaniels is beginning to implement his system while appropriately placing his thumbprint on the Raiders. McDaniels consistently served as one of the better offensive play-callers in the league throughout a successful tenure in New England, and the Raiders possess the potential to take a sizable step forward under his watchful eye.
The presence of quarterback Derek Carr, tight end Darren Waller, and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow gives McDaniels a trio of intriguing playmakers to work with, but inserting an elite boundary receiver into their lineup would serve as a game-changer for McDaniels and the Raiders. The unforeseen departure of Henry Ruggs III has left the Raiders starving for a starting-level receiver.
With more than $20 million in cap space, the Raiders possess the financial means necessary to attract Cooper while making his signature a priority. Cooper previously departed the Raiders on less-than-ideal terms when the franchise played in Oakland, but a new regime has now taken charge. General manager Dave Ziegler and McDaniels could likely smooth over any hard feelings Cooper may still be harboring.
The Philadelphia Eagles surpassed expectations by qualifying for the postseason in Year 1 of the Nick Sirianni era. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts experienced a fruitful campaign while leading the Eagles to a respectable 9-8 record. The Eagles experienced most of their offensive success via a league-leading rushing attack, and steps could be taken to improve their passing game. This offseason is all about investing in Hurts’ continued development.
General manager Howie Roseman has struggled to draft high-level receivers in recent years, but last year’s addition of DeVonta Smith is an appropriate start as they continue to retool and revamp the room. The former Alabama standout showcased elite traits as a rookie, but the misdraftings of Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega Whiteside has left the rest of their receiver room begging for more.
The Eagles must complement Smith’s skill set with the addition of another receiver that’s capable of attracting the attention of opposing secondaries. Signing Cooper away from their arch-rival Cowboys qualifies as the cherry on top, and would give Cooper two annual opportunities to play against his former employer.
General manager Chris Ballard continues to work through his less-than-desirable quarterbacking situation, but the Colts may be stuck with Carson Wentz in 2022, as searching for quality upgrades has proven to be an extremely difficult and hopeless exercise. Indianapolis lacks the draft capital necessary to target a veteran signal-caller, and few of them appear to be available anyhow. If Wentz returns to Indianapolis next season, and that is the expected outcome currently, Ballard must better set him up for success by surrounding him with more playmaking receivers.
Michael Pittman Jr. is an ascending talent that’s quickly developing into an elite threat on the boundary, but a quality WR2 is desperately needed. The aging T.Y. Hilton is an unrestricted free agent, Parris Campbell has struggled to remain healthy, and Zach Pascal has been previously miscast in that starring role. Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan are nothing more than developing talents at this time. The Colts possess a pair of exciting talents in Pittman and Jonathan Taylor, and adding Cooper to the fray would give them a big three of their own.
With more than $36 million in available money, Ballard should aggressively pursue Cooper should the Cowboys release him before March 20.
The Commanders own the 11th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft and are largely expected to pick a new franchise quarterback with that selection following Taylor Heinicke’s failure to develop into a long-term starting signal-caller. Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Liberty’s Malik Willis, and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett are prime candidates to become Washington’s starter next season.
Selecting a quarterback places a great emphasis on ensuring the quality of the remainder of your offense. Placing young quarterbacks in an environment that’s best suited for success should serve as an imperative part of the process. Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew must take this into consideration as he continues to weigh his offseason options.
Terry McLaurin has developed into a fantastic starting receiver, but the Commanders desperately require more pass-catching talent opposite him. Last offseason’s signing of Curtis Samuel appears to be a swing-and-miss, and the less-effective Adam Humphries is an unrestricted free agent. McLaurin and Antonio Gibson give the Commanders two breathtaking playmakers, but a rookie quarterback would require all the assistance possible. With a healthy $30 million available in cap space, Cooper should immediately capture Washington’s interest.
Allen Robinson is headed for unrestricted free agency and is almost certain to depart the Bears this month following a strange season in 2021. Robinson experienced career-lows in receptions, yards, touchdowns, and yards per reception (with injury-related qualifiers taken into account) while largely becoming an afterthought in Chicago’s offense. The two sides are headed for a mutual parting of the ways as Robinson searches for greener pastures elsewhere.
Robinson’s impending departure leaves the Bears with a sizable hole at the receiver position. Darnell Mooney has developed into a quality deep threat but lacks the overall skill set to become a weekly target-hog. New general manager Ryan Poles is without a first-round selection as a result of last year’s trade-up to secure the services of Justin Fields and could look to free agency to address this pressing need. Fields has already captured the hearts and excitement of Bears fans around the world, and investing in his continued success and development commands top priority throughout Poles’ first full-time offseason.
Fields possesses every trait necessary to become Chicago’s starting signal-caller for the next 10-plus seasons, and pairing him with a bonafide WR1 such as Cooper could help the franchise achieve that long-term goal. Chicago possesses $25 million in cap space and can afford to aggressively seek out Cooper’s signature.