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Should the New York Jets trade for Amari Cooper?

Amari Cooper, NY Jets, Trade, Cowboys, Contract
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Getty Images

Amari Cooper is the latest big-name wide receiver mentioned in New York Jets trade rumors

The New York Jets‘ number one goal this offseason should be to surround quarterback Zach Wilson with as much talent as possible.

New York started on this mission last year by signing wide receiver Corey Davis then adding rookie stars in wide receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter.

However, with a glaring hole at tight end, a down year for Davis, and Moore and Carter missing nine total games, the Jets need to do more.

Of the many big names who could be available through free agency or trade, the Jets’ best option may be Amari Cooper of the Dallas Cowboys, who has been rumored to be on the trade block.

Why the Jets should trade for Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper is only 27 years old and has had at least 1,000 receiving yards in five of his seven seasons in the NFL. The drop issues that plagued him with the Raiders have vanished in Dallas as he has only seven drops against 166 receptions over the past two years (3.8% drop rate).

His elite route running and playmaking ability would quickly make him Wilson’s top target.

Cooper had a down year in 2021, only totaling 865 yards and eight touchdowns with the emergence of CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. But that is still far better than any Jets wide receiver since 2017.

Even with the decline, Pro Football Focus still rated Cooper 40th among 104 qualified wide receivers in 2021. Cooper peaked in 2019 during his first full year with the Cowboys, tallying 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns, which earned him the ninth-highest PFF grade among 109 receivers at 84.2. Here are his ranks throughout his career.

YearGamesPFF GradeReceptionsYardsTDs
20211573.0 (40/104)749299
20201675.9 (32/101)921,1145
20191684.2 (9/103)791,1898
20181576.7 (31/110)881,1768
20171463.6 (71/106)486807
20161676.7 (26/104)851,1645
20151671.2 (44/101)721,0706

I can’t remember the last time the Jets had a receiver who put up these numbers over multiple years.

Cooper is a home run threat, ranking third among all players with 24 touchdowns outside the red zone since 2015. This is an area of desperate need for the Jets.

The Jets wide receivers failed to punch the ball into the end zone for Wilson this season as he had six completions that were halted at the one-yard line, tied for the most in the NFL. Outside of Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios, the rest of the Jets’ receivers didn’t get the job done. Cooper would help solve that.

What would Cooper cost?

The big question is how much would it take to get Cooper. He has obviously been a great player throughout his career but his contract is impossible for many teams. Over the next three years, Cooper has a cap hit of $22 million each year, the third-highest among wide receivers.

Cooper’s PFF grade and production have also seen a steady decline over the last two years, although Dak Prescott’s injury and Lamb’s emergence played a role.

A similar trade in the past involved Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Bills traded their first, fifth, and sixth-round picks in the 2020 draft along with a 2021 fourth-round pick in exchange for Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick.

Diggs had a successful career prior to the trade, posting 1,000-yard seasons in each of the two years before the trade. He also was already signed to a contract averaging $14 million over four years. Diggs was a year younger than Cooper as well.

It’s unlikely that Cooper would command a first-round pick but it would likely take multiple day-two picks. That can change, however, as the Cowboys are currently $20 million over the cap with several key players heading to free agency.

The Jets should trade for Amari Cooper

Overall, Cooper is a more highly regarded player than Diggs was at the time and has several years of high-level production. However, his contract and slight decline present the Jets with the perfect opportunity to add him.

There’s a possibility Cooper could be cut if the Cowboys can’t make space or find a trade partner. As of right now, only 11 teams have the cap space to trade for Cooper and sign their draft class. This doesn’t include any signings or other moves teams will need to make.

The Cowboys have an out in his contract where they walk away with only $6 million in dead cap if they cut him. Dallas has until March 20 to cut him before his salary becomes guaranteed. The Jets are fourth in the waiver wire and of the teams ahead of them only the Jaguars have the cap space to feasibly claim Cooper.

In a perfect world, the Cowboys will be desperate to move Cooper but can’t find a trade partner to offload his salary. Then, Joe Douglas swindles another team by adding Cooper with a non-premium pick. After that, the Jets sign him to an extension and lower his cap number to a much more acceptable value.

Finally, the Jets will have given their young quarterback a talented offense that they can rely on. Wilson will be throwing to Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis as his top targets instead of Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, and Jeff Smith. After that, the Jets just need to add players at tight end and along the offensive line and life will be good.

It remains to be seen if Cooper is truly available, but things are headed in that direction.

Lamb has established himself as Dallas’ No. 1 option on offense while Michael Gallup is a talented second or third option heading for free agency. Not to mention, the Cowboys have other key players to take care of in Dalton Schultz, Connor Williams, Randy Gregory, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jayron Kearse.

Now it’s up to Douglas to make a move.

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2 years ago

To anyone hoping we can trade for Cooper AND sign Schultz as a FA: the only reason Dallas would trade Cooper is to free up cap space to sign Schultz.

2 years ago

No! This fun, let’s do another scenario.

2 years ago

22 million a year is a little steep, pass

2 years ago

I would rather they draft a guy that can grow with Zach. They signed Davis as their vet, maybe they sign another free agent in the Cole mold but I’d say draft over trade or sign their true #1.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jets71

I agree with the first part, for the second part I’d rather just bring back Cole as our 4/5 WR.

2 years ago
Reply to  Reprocity

I’m good with them bringing back Cole. I’d like to see him do more at $5 million a year. Maybe they can get him for less than that figure.