Amari Cooper has transformed the Dallas Cowboys offense into one that converts third downs, makes splash plays and beats contenders. In the same very short time, the receiver for whom Dallas gave up a first-round draft pick to get has transformed himself into a quote machine.In a very short time, electric
Well, OK, maybe not completely. But after his explosive performance in the 31-23 win over the Redskins, the usually soft-spoken Cooper said a Thanksgiving mouthful.
“I don’t want to prove the Raiders wrong,” Cooper said of the team that dealt him away while surrounded by a media horde in the winning locker room here at AT&T Stadium. “I just want to prove the Cowboys right.”
Cowboys players, coaches and fans were praising Amari Cooper after his big game in a 31-23 win against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.
And team owner Jerry Jones was loving it, too. The Cowboys acquired Cooper from the Raiders last month to provide the vertical threat the team has been missing this year, and the 24-year-old wide receiver broke out against Washington. He caught eight passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular 90-yard score that electrified the home crowd.
Afterward, Jones told reporters, “Amari looks like he’s making a bid for his cash.”
More than a reference to Cooper’s 2019 salary ($13.9 million), Jones seemed to be alluding to the prospect of a long-term extension for the wide receiver. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott were definitely happy with Cooper’s contributions against the Redskins.
Jones did not discourage that talk when asked about it.
“They’ve got it going,” Jones said (via the Dallas News). “They have a good rapport. I think that can happen here, yes, and I think Amari can be a big part of this for a long time to come. He’s found his home.”
“It takes a lot of attention off me. And I love it,” Elliott said. “It’s definitely going to loosen up that box. Hey, I’m happy we got him.”
The Cowboys’ big offensive showing by Prescott, Elliott and Cooper drew an inevitable comparison to the Cowboys’ “Triplets,” QB Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin, from the 1990s Super Bowl championship teams.Consider it done. Cooper had eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns for the 6-5 Cowboys, who now sit atop the NFC East and control their own playoff destiny. For the Cowboys, Amari’s route-running ability and yards after catch skills allowed him to put on a show that made him an in the air equal of ground eating running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had 121 rushing yards and two more TDs.
“Jack Del Rio told me before we made the trade, he said, ‘Just look at the Kansas City film a year ago,’” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, referencing the former Cowboys player and former Raiders head coach. “We just said to hell with it. We’re not going to do anything but throw him the ball. Just look at that, and that will show you what Amari is like. And so this (game) kind of reminded me a little of what (Del Rio) was trying to say.
Cooper had 210 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches for the Oakland Raiders against the Kansas City Chiefs back on Oct. 10, 2017. It’s the sort of thing the former Alabama Crimson Tide did plenty of as a first-round pick of Oakland as he made two Pro Bowls and notched two 1,000-yard seasons in the first three years of his career.
Fast forward to now, and in his four games as a member of the Cowboys, he’s got 22 catches for 349 yards and three scores. He’s averaging 16 yards per catch and has three receptions for 20-yards plus — including, of course, the 40-yard score and the 90-yard score.
“I think tonight speaks on how I’ve been saying that he makes this whole transition easy,” Prescott said. “The elite player he is. He gets space and he creates space himself with the route running that he has. He did that and then he went and got a lot of yards after the catch. That’s what big-time receivers do.”
Not only was it the longest catch of Cooper’s career, it was the longest pass play in the NFL this season, the longest pass of Prescott’s career and the longest by a Cowboy since Troy Aikman hit Jason Tucker with a 90-yarder on Jan. 2, 2000.
Hall of Famer Bob Hayes has the longest touchdown catch by a Cowboy: 95 yards from Don Meredith in 1966. In 1978, Tony Dorsett had a 91-yard touchdown catch from Roger Staubach, and Aikman connected with Alvin Harper for 90 yards against San Francisco in 1994.
Cooper and Prescott have quickly become a strong connection. In Prescott’s first 42 starts, the most yards after the catch he combined with a receiver was 41 yards from Dez Bryant at the New York Giants in 2017. Cooper’s touchdowns had 68 and 35 yards after the catch against the Redskins.
The last time a Cowboys receiver had more than 100 yards after the catch was Miles Austin, who had 150 of his franchise-record 250 yards after the catch in a 2009 win at the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’ve just been putting in extra time with my coaches and with Dak,” Cooper said. “We sit by each other in the meeting room. We’re just trying to catch up and be on the same page. For some reason, since I got here the chemistry between me and Dak has been phenomenal.”
Ezekiel Elliott has had three 100-yard rushing games, including 121 yards against Washington, and Prescott has completed at least 67.7 percent of his passes after not completing better than 65.5 percent of his snaps in the first seven games.Since the Cowboys acquired Cooper,
Maybe more importantly, the Cowboys have found a winning formula since trading for Cooper that has them in first place in the division.
“They say if you want to be a good team you have to really start rolling in November,” Cooper said. “We’ve just been focused, man. We’ve been standing tall with our backs against the wall, relentless. Hopefully we can keep this up.”
Amari Cooper is an American football wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Alabama where he was the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top receiver and a unanimous All-American in 2014. Widely considered the top wide receiver prospect of the 2015 NFL Draft, he was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Oakland Raiders.
Cooper attended Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami, Florida. As a junior, he missed much of the season with an injury but still managed to be one of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s primary targets and had 16 catches for 175 yards with four scores. Cooper was dominant on the 7-on-7 circuit at various college campuses before his senior season. He had a show out performance at Alabama’s summer camp, and that quickly led to an offer from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. In his final year, he hauled in 33 receptions for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was a first team FHSAA 8A All-State selection, as well as the No. 4 player on The Orlando Sentinel’s Florida Top 100. He was also invited to play at the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game, where he had a 75-yard touchdown grab and a 93-yard punt return for a score. In addition to being a standout in football, Cooper also starred in basketball and track at Miami Northwestern.
Cooper was a consensus four-star prospect. He was listed as the No. 45 in the Rivals100, and was considered the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 8 player in Florida by Rivals.com. ESPNU listed him as the nation’s No. 7 wideout and No. 46 overall prospect in the ESPNU 150 while ranking 25th in the ESPNU Southeast Top 100 and No. 12 in Florida. He was ranked as the No. 6 wide receiver and the No. 10 player in the state of Florida by 247Sports.com, while ranking him 55th in the Top247. Also, Scout.com rated him as the No. 12 pass catcher in the nation and 86th overall prospect. He chose Alabama over Florida State, Miami, and Ohio State, among others. Cooper announced his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama on September 22, 2011.
As a freshman at Alabama, Cooper played in all 14 games, including starts in the final nine games. He led the team with 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 11 touchdowns broke Alabama’s 62-year-old record by Al Lary. His receptions and receiving yards broke Julio Jones‘s Alabama freshman records. In the SEC Championship, he had eight receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in the 32–28 victory over Georgia. In Alabama’s 2013 BCS National Championship Game 42–14 victory over Notre Dame, Cooper led all Alabama receivers with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper earned consensus Freshman All-American honors and was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team by the league coaches.
As a sophomore in 2013, Cooper played in 12 games with seven starts, missing two games due to injury. He had 45 receptions for a team-high 736 yards and four touchdowns. He had his best game of the season against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, recording six receptions for 178 yards, including a school record 99-yard touchdown reception from quarterback AJ McCarron. In the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, he had nine receptions for 121 yards in the 45–31 loss.
As a junior in 2014, Cooper set numerous single-season and career records for Alabama. Against Tennessee, he broke Alabama’s single game receiving yards record, finishing with 224. He later matched the record against Auburn. For the season, Cooper had 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all school records. In addition, his 124 receptions were an SEC record. He became Alabama’s all-time leader in receptions (229), receiving yards (3,463), and receiving touchdowns (31). Cooper was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, finishing third behind Marcus Mariota and Melvin Gordon. He won the Biletnikoff Award that season and was also named a unanimous All-American.
After his junior season, Cooper entered the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Oakland Raiders selected Cooper in the first round with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Cooper was initially assigned the jersey number 19, but following the release of fellow receiver James Jones, he switched to number 89. Cooper made his NFL debut for the Oakland Raiders on September 13, 2015. He hauled in 5 receptions for 47 yards in a 33–13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In his second game against the Baltimore Ravens, he had 109 yards receiving including his first touchdown on a 68-yard pass from Derek Carr. In Week 3, he had a franchise rookie record eight receptions for 134 yards in a 27-20 win against the Cleveland Browns, becoming the first Raiders receiver with consecutive 100+ yard receiving games since Randy Moss in 2005. Through three games, his 290 receiving yards was third in NFL history. On November 8, 2015, Cooper passed Tim Brown‘s record for rookie receptions (43) in a 35-38 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On December 20, 2015, Cooper became the first Oakland Raider rookie in franchise history to reach the 1,000-yard mark and the only receiver in the club to reach that same mark since Randy Moss, in 2005. His five 100+ yard receiving games and 72 receptions are also franchise rookie records. On December 22, 2015, Cooper was selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl, alongside teammates Derek Carr and Latavius Murray; he replaced Brandon Marshall and played.
Cooper put together a solid second season in the NFL. In the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, he had six receptions for 137 yards in a 35–34 victory. In Week 5, against the San Diego Chargers, he had six receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in a 34–31 victory. In Week 8, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had his best game of the season with 12 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown in a 30–24 overtime victory. Overall, he had 83 receptions for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns. Cooper was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl on December 20, 2016. He was also ranked 53rd by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
In the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, Cooper had only 5 receptions for 62 yards on 13 targets, though one was a touchdown. After having 33 yards in Week 2, Cooper had three consecutive games with less than 10 receiving yards. However, on Thursday Night Football, in a 31–30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, Cooper had a career-high 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His yardage was the most by any NFL player at that point in the 2017 season, the second most in franchise history, and the first 200+ yard game in franchise history since 1965. With his stellar performance in Week 7, Cooper earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week. After a string of games without stellar yardage totals, Cooper finished the 2017 season with 3 receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 30–10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. While it was later revealed that Cooper struggled throughout the latter half of the season from an ankle injury that hampered his play. Cooper finished the 2017 season recording career-lows with 48 receptions for 680 yards but he did have a career-high 7 receiving touchdowns.
On April 22, 2018, the Raiders exercised the fifth-year option on Cooper’s contract. In Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns, Cooper caught eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in a 45–42 overtime win. During Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks in London, Cooper was knocked unconscious when he suffered a concussion. The Raiders went on to lose the game 27-3.
On October 22, 2018, Cooper was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In his first game with the Cowboys on November 5, Cooper led the team with 5 receptions for 58 yards and a Touchdown as the Cowboys lost to the Tennessee Titans by a score of 28-14. On Thanksgiving Day, Cooper had 8 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 90-yard catch and run in the third quarter as the Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins by a score of 31-23.