Could Amari Cooper be the first major domino to fall for the Dallas Cowboys?

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INDIANAPOLIS – Sometimes it’s what is not being said that raises an eyebrow.

Directly asked if Amari Cooper will be on the Dallas Cowboys’ list in 2022, said Executive Vice President Stephen Jones.

“It’s too early for me to tackle it yet,” Jones of the NFL Scouting Association in Indianapolis said Monday. “I mean, we continue to have conversations.”

If Cooper’s status were cemented, Jones would have emphatically supported the broadband receiver, as he was later in the interview session with a bunch of journalists regarding running back Ezekiel Elliott.

“I want Zeke on my team,” Jones said. “You’re talking about playing through some injuries, some things that are difficult – I mean he’s a competitor. I think he’s a damn good running back and I think he’s going to help us win in “Obviously, his contract, his money is guaranteed. He’s going to be here, no doubt. We’m lucky to have him.”

Elliott finished with 1,002 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 237 carries while playing most of the season with a partially torn back cruciate ligament. He wore a cumbersome hoop for most of the second half of the season, but continued to play.

It can only be about economics.

Elliott’s $ 12.4 million base salary for 2022 is already guaranteed. It would not make economic sense to move on from Elliott and there is almost no chance that another team will want to trade for running back.

Cooper’s $ 20 million base salary will not be fully guaranteed until the fifth day of the 2022 league year. The Cowboys designed the $ 100 million contract in a way that they could get out of the deal for a relatively small sum after two seasons. If they cut Cooper, he would count $ 6 million against the salary cap, not $ 22 million.

For a team that expects more than $ 21 million above the ceiling, every dollar counts – especially with so many unsigned key-free agents like defensive end Randy Gregory, tight-end Dalton Schultz, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and safety Jayron Kearse.

What other wage cap saving features could be next? Restructuring of quarterback Dak Prescott’s deal could open up to close to $ 15 million.

But if the Cowboys cut Cooper, they could face a lot of revenue in the receiving end in 2022. CeeDee Lamb is ready, but Michael Gallup (who tore an ACL at the end of last season) and Cedrick Wilson are ready to be free agents .

“Many things affect [Cooper’s status] compared to obviously that we have been so lucky to have these three good recipients on our list, and it is of course difficult to keep doing under a salary cap, ”Jones said. “And certainly Ced did a really good job for us and he is up. So there are some moving parts there that we will have to keep massaging as we move forward. ”

One of the things that will not affect Cooper’s place is his decision not to be vaccinated last year, according to Jones, even though it cost him two games that the Cowboys lost.

Cooper finished with 865 yards on 68 receptions with eight touchdowns in his 15 games. Good numbers, but not recipient numbers # 1, which is what he gets paid for. He had two 100-yard games in the first seven weeks and none in his last eight games. He had three matches with two receptions and one with three.

The production of passing games slipped as Cooper’s numbers slipped.

“I just think it’s an offensive philosophy, and when we had the players we had between [coordinator] Kellen [Moore] and Dak, that was a progression of where you threw the ball, ”Jones said. “Depending on how the defense played you, it would point the ball to specific places. If they have to double here and they want to double over the top here, it will dictate that the ball goes here. So I think it’s more of a system deal. It was not a ‘We do not want to target Amari’ that much. “

If the system does not provide the best value for money, then …

“We’re going through all that,” Jones said. “I do not get into it individually. But yes, it all comes into play in how we invest. ”

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