How could Kansas City Chiefs make room to acquire Amari Cooper?

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs will have to move some money around to be able to afford Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper.

With the cash-strapped Dallas Cowboys looking to move on from veteran wide receiver Amari Cooper, the Kansas City Chiefs will need to free up some cap space to acquire him, whether that is through NFL free agency or in a trade with America’s Team.

Unlike the Cowboys, the Chiefs are not in the red with regards to the 2022 NFL salary cap. They have nearly $11.5 million in available space to help take on Cooper’s salary. Cooper is a $22 million cap hit for 2022 and a $6 million dead cap hit for the Cowboys if he is traded before June 1. He is under contract for the next three seasons and would not hit his free agency until 2025.

Here is how the Chiefs can afford to acquire Cooper by way of a trade or if he is outright released.

Kansas City Chiefs: How to acquire Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys

If the Chiefs were to trade for Cooper, they would need to give up some draft compensation for this spring. While that “frees up” some salary cap space that would have gone to rookies, do the Chiefs really want to give a fellow Super Bowl contender some ammunition heading into the 2022 NFL Draft? This is a reason why it serves the Chiefs to let the Cowboys release Cooper instead.

But if Cooper is so important to the Chiefs’ offseason plans that they cannot even think about letting him go to the open market, they still need to free up $10.5 million. If the Chiefs want to go the route of restructurings to get more than $10.5 million in available space, Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Joe Thuney would be the three guys to call in that order to get the money freed up.

If the Chiefs want to look at a potential cap casualty, releasing Frank Clark is probably the way to go. While he carries a $12.9 million dead cap hit, cutting him will free up $13.4 million. It would be more than enough available cap space to take on Cooper’s 2022 salary. Even if Clark and Cooper’s dead cap hits drop to $6.45 million and $2 million post June 1 respectively, the time is right now.

Because only five players are under contract for more than $10 million annually for the 2022 Chiefs, the only other player who could agree to free up space in a restructure would be Tyreek Hill. The difference between him and Jones, Mahomes and Thuney is his $2.65 million dead cap hit is negligible. If the Chiefs want to give him more guaranteed down the line, then this is way to go.

Ultimately, the Chiefs would be better served to let the Cowboys release Cooper because they will not have to pay as much in salary as Dallas does. They would not have to be on the hook for the final three years of his contract. Kansas City could put together a short, incentive-laden contract to help him get closer to the $22 million he would have made in Dallas, while staying under the cap.

For the Chiefs to afford Cooper, they must cut Clark or have a few players agree to restructures.

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