Keeping cooper - Analysing the Cowboys' star's new contract
By Dan Gorelov & Ben Rolfe
5 years $100 million
On Monday it was revealed that Amari Cooper would became a one hundred million dollar man and he didn’t even need to leave home. 26 in June, he returned to the Cowboys on a 5 year deal after playing 25 games for Dallas, following the deadline day Raiders trade in 2018.
1,900 yards and 14 touchdowns later, giving up what became the 27th overall pick, Cooper is signed long term. That trade as it turns out bought said production as well as a little loyalty, as it’s reported Cooper turned down “significantly more” money (albeit pre-tax) at the Redskins to return. It is possible due to lower Texan tax rates the net amounts could have been similar.
The former 4th overall pick is now the second best paid receiver in the game. Julio Jones, who is widely regarded as a better player, signed a 3-year extension averaging $22m before the 2019 season began.
Michael Thomas is a much closer contract comparison at; 5 years at age 27 for $96.25m and $60.6m guaranteed.
It’s hard to argue with this deal, it is a significant investment at $20m per year. Cooper directly impacts the most important facet of the game though and a legitimate “Number 1” receiver in their prime is worth circa 10% of the new $198.2m cap though.
This deal could look very reasonable when the next wave of receiver extensions come through.
The cap may well spike in 2021 under the new CBA and unsettled peers such as Hopkins and Diggs, traded yesterday, will continue to push for comparable deals despite having years left on their deals.
Can Cooper avoid the falloff he experienced in Oakland?
We have now seen the best part of two good years from Cooper as part of the Cowboys. However, his third year with the Oakland Raiders is when the wheel started to fall off.
Through his first two years in Oakland, Cooper averaged over 1000 yards per season, more than eight targets per game and 4.84 receptions per game. However, in his third year he managed just 680 yards, 6.9 targets per game and 3.5 receptions per game. That slump extended into his fourth year with the Raiders, as he had just 280 yards, 31 targets (5.2 per game) and 22 receptions (3.4 per game) through six games.
After his move to Dallas, things picked up considerably. In the last nine games of the 2018 season, he averaged nearly six receptions per game and 80.6 yards per game on 8.4 targets per game. That strong performance continued into his second season with the Cowboys as he went over the 1,100 yard mark for the second time in his career, while scoring a career-high eight touchdowns.
How consistent is Cooper?
When you look down each of his games individually then a trend seems to jump out. Cooper’s numbers have a tendency to be padded by a handful of good games, which mask struggles in other games.
We can highlight this by breaking his career down three categories; less than 50 receiving yards, 50-100 receiving yards and greater than 100 receiving yards.
Over the course of his 77 game career, Cooper has managed more than 100 receiving yards in just 25%, compared to 49% below 50 receiving yards. However, those 100 yard games contribute 54% of his career receiving yards. What that means is that in an average season, Cooper will have four games with over 100 receiving yards and eight with less than 50 receiving yards.
As a contrast, Julio Jones has less than 50 receiving yards in just 15% of his games, and over 100 receiving yards in a whopping 44% of his games. Cooper is now being paid to be a dominant receiver for the Cowboys, but can he consistently dominate games for Dallas? Given that just six of his 25 games since joining the Cowboys have seen him go over 100 receiving yards (24%), the evidence would say that it is extremely unlikely.
Dan previously wrote for the Inside zone and spent LAST offseason hosting the who dey who dat podcast, shining a light on some of the game’s intricacies with a fantastic array of guests.
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Image credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports