Is Amari Cooper waiting for Julio Jones to do a deal?

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The Cowboys want to sign receiver Amari Cooper to a long-term deal, but the negotiations apparently are going nowhere. That’s possibly because Cooper is curious about where another receiver’s effort to get a long-term deal ends up.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram contends that the Cowboys believe Cooper is waiting to see what Julio Jones gets from the Falcons before finalizing a deal in Dallas. And that makes plenty of sense.

Jones could become the highest-paid receiver in the league, and that would definitely impact the Cooper negotiations. Indeed, the Cowboys may be trying to base Cooper’s deal on the $13.924 million that he’s due to make this year and the franchise tag (at least $17 million) in 2020, which works out to $31 million or so over the all-important first two years, an average of $15.5 million annually. If Jones gets more than $18 million per year in new money on his extension in Atlanta, Cooper may aim higher than the formula generated by his first-round option year and the franchise tag.

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Cooper also has other leverage when it comes to maximizing his compensation. The Cowboys traded a first-round pick to get him, and they publicly (and repeatedly) have declared that he’s their 2019 first-round pick. Even if those comments came with tongue partially planted in cheek, the Cowboys surely didn’t surrender a first-round selection for roughly 1.5 seasons with Cooper.

Then there’s the fact that Cooper performed very well during his time with the Cowboys, energizing the passing game and actually making the first-round pick they gave up to get him seem to be too light.

From Cooper’s perspective, what’s the rush? He has a fully-guaranteed salary of $13.924 million in 2019, and at a minimum he’ll either become a free agent or receive the franchise tag in 2020. As long as he’s willing to carry the risk of injury and/or ineffectiveness for one more season, Cooper holds most of the cards.

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