Amari Cooper could hit free agency, per report

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have been trying to ink Amari Cooper to a long-term deal before 2020 NFL Free Agency hits, but it sounds increasingly likely the star receiver will test the open waters.

Amari Cooper has been a game-changing acquisition for the Dallas Cowboys since they boldly sent a first-round pick to Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders for the former Alabama star. While Cooper’s talent is undeniable, he was in the midst of an underwhelming 2018 season.

With Dak Prescott throwing him passes instead of Derek Carr, Cooper lit up the stat sheet and lifted Dallas to the postseason as the missing piece of the puzzle on offense. He’s been as valuable in 2019 for the Cowboys offense, too, as Prescott is having the most productive season of his young NFL career.

However, the Cowboys may not be able to keep Cooper for the long haul. CBS Sports’s Jason La Canfora reports there is only one way for Dallas to keep their No. 1 wideout from hitting the open market next spring; they’d have to use the franchise tag on him.

The problem is the Cowboys have two other key impending free agents in shutdown corner Byron Jones and Prescott, who takes priority as the franchise quarterback. Prescott will get his money and will become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL at somewhere over $30 million per year, and this will impact how much money is left for Cooper.

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Dallas made no progress with Cooper in contract negotiations last offseason, and they will have their work cut out for them in the months before free agency begins. It’s not impossible for the Cowboys and Cooper to reach a deal or find some slim chance of slapping him with the franchise tag, but it looks like Cooper could earn a big contract somewhere else in March as another team’s top target.

So far this season, Cooper has caught 64 passes for 971 yards and seven touchdowns with a monstrous 15.2 yards per reception. He is one of the NFL’s premier playmakers and runs some of the crispest routes in the whole league.

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