FRISCO, Texas — Amari Cooper has only one year left on his contract, and while other players in a similar boat have skipped large chunks of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Cooper is at the Ford Center, getting in work with the Dallas Cowboys.
And while there’s nothing wrong with holding out — players must look out for themselves and earn as much as they can — Cooper insists it wasn’t much of an option for him.
“I just want to get better — and I love football,” Cooper said Wednesday. “I love coming out here, doing 7-on-7, routes on air in team periods and being able to showcase my ability and run routes. It’s like the greatest thing to me, it’s kinda like art to me — like a painter drawing something. And that’s how I feel every time I run routes.
“I mean, I would come out here and run routes even if I wasn’t getting paid, because I just love it so much … anytime I can get into a situation in which I’m running routes, I love it. I mean, I’d go out in the streets and just run some routes.”
It’s hard not to see Cooper earning a monster deal in the near future to run those routes. After a slow start to the 2018 season in Oakland, the 24-year-old came alive following a midseason trade to Dallas, racking up 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games with the Cowboys. He tallied only 22 catches for 280 yards and a touchdown in six games with the Raiders.
Cooper has dealt with minor injuries during his career, but he has appeared in 61 of 64 possible games across four seasons with his best year coming in 2016, when he racked up 1,153 yards and five touchdowns on 83 catches. Throw in the fact he has made the Pro Bowl three times in four years — not to mention the first-round draft pick the Cowboys surrendered to acquire him last October — and it would make sense for the Cowboys to extend him through his prime.
When asked Wednesday if he’s aware of what the game’s top receivers are making — upward of $16 million to $19 million per season — Cooper acknowledged he did.
“Of course,” Cooper said. “I don’t know exactly what they’re getting — I’m not counting nobody’s pockets — but my agent told me what the market was; I know the neighborhood they’re in.”
The way Cooper sees it, he’s better off working with quarterback Dak Prescott — who is also facing an uncertain contract situation of his own — and improving at the game.
“I’m just waiting it out, and we’ll see what happens,” Cooper said. “I haven’t talked to [my representative] in a minute; I don’t really like talking about the contract stuff with him. I feel like it’s one of those things that will just naturally happen … I just handle my business. I’m more anxious about camp and actually playing football.”
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