- The Dallas Cowboys have won five in a row and are surging toward the playoffs, thanks in part to wide receiver Amari Cooper.
- The NFL world mocked the Cowboys for trading a first-round pick for Cooper, but in six games, he has posted 600 yards and 6 touchdowns.
- The trade added new life to the Cowboys’ offence and defence.
- With the Cowboys likely heading for the postseason, the first-round pick they traded for Cooper looks less costly now than it did six weeks ago.
The Dallas Cowboys are surging, having won five games in a row after beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 29-23, in a huge divisional game on Sunday.
The hero of the game was wide receiver Amari Cooper, who hauled in 10 catches for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of the scores came after halftime, including the game-winner in overtime in which he snagged the ball out of midair after Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas broke up the pass.
The Cowboys traded for Cooper in October, sending the Oakland Raiders a first-round pick for the 24-year-old wide receiver. Most in the NFL world criticised the trade. First-round picks are highly valuable, and the Cowboys were 3-4 at the time, seemingly heading for a top-10 pick.
Cooper had also fallen off in his last year and a half with the Raiders, leading many to think the Cowboys could have given up something like a second- or third-round pick for him. Two other trades for wide receivers around the NFL shortly after the Cooper deal seemed to prove as much.
But the upshot to the Cooper trade was that the Cowboys were getting a young receiver, with years left on his contract, who could help open up the offence. One of the Cowboys’ biggest problems pre-trade was a lack of viable weapons outside of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys have gone 5-1 since the trade, moving to 8-5 and the top of the NFC East. The Cooper effect, on the field, has been real. In six games with the Cowboys, he has 40 catches, 642 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Aside from being a true No. 1 threat, he has big-play ability, turning both routine and tough catches into game-changing plays.
Cooper’s presence had all of the other intended effects, too. Ezekiel Elliott has more room to operate as teams respect the pass a little more, averaging 4.8 yards per carry since Cooper’s first game.
Dak Prescott, too, has improved, completing 73.8% of his throws while posting a 105 passer rating in that same period.
And the Cowboys defence has stepped up and been a significant reason why the team is on a five-game winning streak. It helps defenders’ legs when the offence can stay on the field long enough to give them a rest. That’s another side effect of Cooper.
Trade outcomes aren’t decided in six weeks – maybe not even one season. The Raiders might still land an All-Pro talent with the Cowboys’ pick, or the Cowboys could lose in the first round of the playoffs, then overpay Cooper, mitigating the benefits of the deal.
But for now, Cooper’s presence alone seems to have reinvigorated a team most thought were playoff longshots in the first half of the season. With their first-round pick looking likely to land in the 20s, as opposed to the top 10, the deal now seems worthwhile for Dallas.
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