Despite Cooper struggling with the Raiders to open up the year — tallying just 22 catches for 280 yards and a touchdown in six games before the trade — Dallas gave up a first round pick for the Alabama product.
It seemed like a hefty price to pay, but Cooper more than paid off down the stretch.
Cooper racked up 725 yards and six touchdowns receiving in nine games with the Cowboys last season. That included a 217-yard, three touchdown performance against NFC East rival Philadelphia in Week 14. He also notched the game-winning TD in overtime.
The 24-year-old wide out showed he could be a No. 1 option on a playoff team, and a former Cowboys legend took notice of what he was doing.
Michael Irvin stopped into JaM Session with Jean-Jacques Taylor and Matt McClearin on ESPN Radio, and called Cooper a “perfect fit” for the Cowboys’ offense.
“When you watch Cooper, he’s probably only second to A.J. Green as far receivers transitioning out of routes go,” Irvin said. “The best thing you can give a young quarterback is a receiver who can transition in and out of routes. I can throw behind his back and know by the time the ball gets there that he’ll be wide open coming out of that route because he transitions so well. That’s what makes Cooper perfect for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.”
The problem with keeping Cooper around long-term will be money. Both he, Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott need new deals, and each will demand big time money.
Cooper is looking for one of the largest contracts at his position, according to Calvin Watkins of The Athletic. The Cowboys will not likely want to do that.
Currently, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham has the highest average salary at $18 million per year, and also collected the largest guarantee ($65 million).
Irvin also weighed in on the new-look offense, which is under the direction of Kellen Moore — a former backup quarterback with the team who had previously served as the quarterbacks coach.
There’s some mystery surrounding what Moore’s offense will look like, but there is reportedly going to be quite a bit of shifting and motion. Irvin said it’s alright to add bells in whistles, but don’t stay from what works: giving two-time NFL rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott the ball.
“The main thing has to be Ezekiel Elliott and running the football,” Irvin said. “You can put the dressing all around, but let’s not get caught up in the sign stuff and forget the basic stuff. I want you to add things to that offense. I’m worried a little bit when I hear all of these movement ideas, which are all great and all good. But, I want to hear people talk more about — listen, our base is our base.”
Moore said as much at OTAs last week, although he did want to have a plan that kept Elliott a little more fresh than in year’s past.
Last year, Elliott had a monster workload, with 304 rushes — 43 more than any other player — to go with 77 catches, collecting 2,001 yards from scrimmage.
At the end of the day, we want to get him as many touches as we can. At the same time, you got to recognize what a 16-plus game season is,” Moore told reporters. “We’ll see how it progresses (with the other RBs), but if we can get it to Zeke, we’re gonna get it to Zeke.”