Amari Cooper didn’t produce much for the Raiders this season before his trade to the Cowboys. But whose fault was that?
Now that the NFL has seen Cooper in four games with Dallas, it appears the Raiders may not have known what to do with the talented former first-round pick from Alabama.
Over the past four games with his new team, Cooper has 22 catches for 349 yards – almost 16 yards per reception – and three touchdowns, while helping the Cowboys compile a three-game winning streak. In six games with Oakland, Cooper had 23 catches for 280 yards – just over 12 yards per reception – and one TD. Cooper has been targeted 32 times over four games with Dallas, the same number of times he was targeted over six games by the Raiders.
Cooper himself told Kimberly Martin of Yahoo Sports this week that he believes the Raiders weren’t quite sure how to use him. After head coach Jon Gruden said in the offseason that Cooper would be the focal point of his passing game, Cooper often disappeared from game plans. Cooper was confident in his ability and could never understand it.
“I just always felt like I wasn’t really being used how I felt like I would have used me if I was the coach,” Cooper told Martin. “So I looked at it from that perspective, not from the perspective that, ‘Oh, they don’t think I’m good enough’ or 'I’m not good enough.' I never had those questions in my mind, at all.”
Cooper, who has one year remaining on his initial pro deal, was traded by the Raiders in return for a first-round pick in 2019. But as the 2-9 Raiders limp along toward their final five games, the wide receiving corps – because of the trade of Cooper and injuries to Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant – is thin and doesn’t give quarterback Derek Carr many proven big-play receivers.
With Dallas, Cooper has been QB Dak Prescott’s go-to, clutch target, especially on third downs. And, Cooper has made the whole Cowboys offense better since his arrival. According to NFL.com, Dallas is averaging 3.5 more points per game, Prescott is averaging 50.2 more passing yards per game and Prescott’s passer rating has climbed from 87.4 to 102.4 with Cooper.
While the Raiders will go a different direction next season with the receiving corps, the Cowboys appear ecstatic about the addition of the 24-year-old Cooper – and signing him to an extension.
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, of the prospect of Cooper’s contract being extended: “Amari looks like he’s making a bid for his cash.”
The Raiders will try for their third win of the season this Sunday at home vs. the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.