Maybe it was Jon Gruden. Maybe it was a new offensive scheme. Or perhaps the chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr changed.
So far, Amari Cooper hasn’t been specific.
Yet Cooper, the former Raiders’ first-round pick who was traded away last season to the Dallas Cowboys, says there was something that didn’t quite click during his tenure with the Raiders.
Cooper was struggling with Oakland early in 2018, catching just 22 passes for 280 yards in six games, before being traded to the Cowboys. Once in Dallas, he flourished. In nine games, Cooper had 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns.
Why couldn’t he produce for the Raiders in Gruden’s system?
"Yeah, whatever the circumstances may be, there are certain reasons why one place might not work for a guy and another place will," Cooper told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk recently. "I think the change of scenery was really necessary. I really, honestly, don’t think if I would’ve stayed with the Raiders last season that I would’ve been able to flourish and reach some heights that I was able to reach as a Cowboy. It was definitely necessary."
In his first two seasons in Oakland, Cooper looked like an elite wide receiver who could become one of the NFL’s best. In 2015 and 2016 he had 1,000-yard seasons. But in 2017, he slumped to 680 yards, and that slump carried over to 2018 under Gruden. Upon being hired, Gruden said Cooper would be a focal point for the offense, but it didn’t happen.
After trading Cooper, the Raiders were basically without a No. 1 wide receiver.
"I don’t think it was a good fit for me," Cooper said of the Raiders offense. "I don’t think I was really able to showcase my skills there for whatever reasons. I’ll call it extenuating circumstances. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to reach my heights and I kind of knew that I needed to be gone in order to do some of the things that I wanted to do as an NFL player. …
"I felt there are things that I wanted to do out there on the field during the games, certain plays that I wanted to be called and certain routes that I wanted to run that just weren’t a part of the game plan."
The Raiders – who open training camp later this month – received a first-round pick for Cooper, and have added veteran wideouts Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams this offseason to fill the gap created by Cooper’s departure.