Amari Cooper could be one of the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest cap casualties of this offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys could potentially cut Amari Cooper to save some much-needed cap space.
America’s Team is over $21 million in the hole with regards to next year’s salary cap. Only the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints are in a worse position entering the new league year. Though Dallas traded for Cooper mid-season four years ago with the then-Oakland Raiders, he has been a talented, but incredibly frustrating player at times for the most popular franchise.
Here are the pros and cons for the Cowboys releasing Cooper ahead of 2022 NFL free agency.
Dallas Cowboys: Pros of cutting Amari Cooper
The most obvious pro to cutting Cooper when he still has three years left on his contract is the amount of salary cap space he would free up. Cooper has played through two years of his five-year contract worth $100 million. He accounts for 10.37 percent of the team’s cap in 2022. While he is a $22 million cap hit, Cooper is only a $6 million dead cap hit and just $2 million post-June 1.
By cutting Cooper, the Cowboys are essentially back to breaking even with the cap by making one move. They could release other players, but everybody else making at least eight figures would be way too punitive with the dead cap. The Joneses may not want to do this, but cutting Cooper is the quickest way to freeing up between $16 million and $20 million depending on when it goes down.
Two other upsides to cutting Cooper are that freed up capital will make it easier to re-sign tight end Dalton Schultz and potentially wide receiver Michael Gallup. Dallas also has an emerging star receiver in CeeDee Lamb still on his rookie contract. While letting Cooper walk means someone else could be getting a Pro Bowler, the Cowboys have done a great job of winning in the NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys: Cons of cutting Amari Cooper
The cons of cutting Cooper are plentiful. He would take it personally and then go out and have his best season ever for another franchise still very much in his prime. By letting him go, it means that Lamb has no choice but to become a superstar in 2022. He becomes the unquestioned featured wide receiver and with this power comes great responsibility. If Lamb up for this type of challenge?
While cutting him will help the Cowboys get back to even, they will need to part ways with at least one more big name or have several restructures to even take part in free agency. Releasing Cooper provides the greatest level of cap relief, but it does not get the Cowboys 100 percent back in the black. But even outside of a financial standpoint, the Cowboys would be losing a top-tier player.
Not only that, but Dak Prescott is at his best when he can trust Cooper in the passing game. Dallas stands to be the favorite to win the NFC East again next year. Depending on what happens throughout the rest of the NFC, the Cowboys could be in the mix to play in the conference title bout and get to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995. Can they do this without Cooper?
Dallas Cowboys: Should they cut Amari Cooper?
The only way the Cowboys are not cutting Cooper is if as many of their top 10 players as possible agree to restructures and we kick this can down the road, Saints style. The savings the Cowboys can make from parting ways with Cooper is too much to not seriously consider doing it. But because they have drafted so well, Dallas can bet on itself to add another wide receiver that way.
It might sting initially, but the Cowboys are better served by letting Cooper go and seeing him star for someone else than to pay him all that money. He may be a favorite target of Prescott, but this offense is going as far as the ground game takes it. Cooper has a bad history of drops and him missing games because he was unvaccinated could be the reason The Joneses part ways with him.
If the Cowboys were in a better cap spot, Cooper may stick, but the possible savings is too much.