Changes are bound to happen for the Dallas Cowboys.
The five-time Super Bowl champions are one-and-done in the 2021 NFL playoffs after losing to the San Francisco 49ers during Super Wild Card Weekend.
With another promising season going down the drain, team owner Jerry Jones might be looking to shake things up.
There’s a possibility that head coach Mike McCarthy is on the way out, given his clock management blunders and reduced role within the team.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declines to give Mike McCarthy a rousing endorsement this morning.
"I won’t get in to any conversations that I’ve had with anybody relative to anything to do with staff," he tells @1053thefan. "I've got a lot to think about regarding these coaches."
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 21, 2022
However, one roster move will make much sense for the Cowboys.
Amari Cooper’s time in Dallas is over, and the team must release him sooner than later.
Here’s why letting go of the four-time Pro Bowler makes sense.
3. He’s Not Producing As Expected
Cooper came to Dallas via trade in 2018 and had a resurgence in 2019 and 2020.
In his second year with the Cowboys, the former Alabama standout had 79 receptions for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns.
He finished with 92 catches for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns a year later.
In 2021, Cooper missed two games and had only 865 receiving yards.
The fourth overall selection in the 2015 NFL only had two 100-yard games in 2021.
Jerry Jones is frustrated with Amari Cooper's contract and relative production.
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) January 21, 2022
Interestingly, the Cowboys didn’t have Dak Prescott for the better part of 2020 due to injury.
Then, his production regressed when their top quarterback returned.
Could the reduced numbers hint that Prescott and Cooper do not have great chemistry?
Regardless of the reason, the Cowboys cannot gamble on Cooper again, especially when they pay him big bucks.
2. Gain Financial Flexibility
Cooper signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension before the 2020 season, and he already collected his $40 million in guaranteed money.
However, the deal has a potential out before the 2022 season, and releasing him will provide much cap relief for the Cowboys.
He is due to earn $20 million if he’s still with the team by March 20 this year.
Worst, Cooper will count $22 million against the cap if he remains with Dallas beyond that date.
Jerry Jones: “Amari Cooper should take half the field w/ him when he runs a route…a whole bunch of that defense ought to have to honor Cooper. He ought to be able to catch it in the middle when they’re going w/ him. Others do. You throw to people that are covered all the time.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 21, 2022
On the other hand, trading or releasing Cooper before that day reduces his dead cap to $6 million.
That $16 million difference is huge, considering that the Cowboys already have the third-most devoted money for player salaries next season.
Dallas can even split the $6 million cap hit if they trade Cooper with a post-June 1 designation.
When that happens, his cap liability will soften to $2 million in 2022 and $4 million in 2023.
Dak has ruined 2 WR. First Dez Bryant and now Amari Cooper. He will ruin ceedee as well
— ja morant for MVP (@miguelthegoatc) January 18, 2022
But given his production and his huge cap hit, finding a trade partner will be difficult.
Therefore, releasing Cooper will be the Cowboys’ most plausible plan of action.
Jones can use the saved money to bring in free agents or sign other players to long-term deals.
1. Other Receivers Are Emerging
CeeDee Lamb has become their top receiver this season with 1,102 yards and six touchdowns.
Likewise, other targets stepped up for the Cowboys during their Wild Card loss to the 49ers.
Cedrick Wilson had five catches for 62 yards, while tight end Dalton Schultz had seven receptions for 89 yards.
Releasing Cooper may lead to breakout seasons for both Wilson and Schultz.