After dropping to 3-4 following a dismal performance against the Redskins on Sunday afternoon in D.C., the Cowboys were seemingly left with two choices. Go in the tank, get the best possible pick in the 2019 draft and reload with more than $70 million in salary-cap space during the off-season. Or do something to shake up the 2018 Cowboys before Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and company give up the season as lost themselves.
The Cowboys front office, led by Jerry Jones and his son Stephen, chose Option B.
Monday afternoon, the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, according to multiple media reports. Cooper, a fourth-year pro out of Alabama, is a star, and the Cowboys paid a star price for him.
Cooper, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, is a bona fide No. 1 receiver. He has impressive speed and is one of the NFL's best route-runners — capable of creating separation against both press and off coverage. During his three full seasons with the Raiders, Cooper made the Pro Bowl twice, in 2015 and 2016, before taking a small step back during what was a down year for the team as a whole in 2017.
If he performs to his considerable potential with the Cowboys, Cooper will fill the biggest hole in the team's offense, taking over the deep-threat role that hasn't been adequately manned since Dez Bryant was last fully healthy in 2014. Cooper is making a little less than $500,000 on the last year of his rookie deal this season, and he has already had his nearly $15 million option for 2019 picked up by the Raiders.
Cooper's signing does come with considerable risk.
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While the Cowboys remain in the middle of the NFC East race, sitting a game-and-a-half behind the Redskins, tied with the Eagles for second place, they're one game below .500 through seven games. To even think about the playoffs, the Cowboys, the same Cowboys who are 0-4 and the road and haven't won consecutive games this season, will have to turn it on after their bye this week and go 6-3 down the stretch.
They'll also need to show consistency on offense, something they've done only twice this season — against the Lions and Jaguars — and overcome the glaring deficiencies of head coach Jason Garrett, who's committed critical game management errors in two of the Cowboys' four losses.
If the Cowboys don't do those things, or Cooper fails to assimilate into the team's offense in the season's second half, his trade will wind up on the long list of ambitious, reckless deals made by the Joneses when they felt their backs were against the wall. Cooper is the third wide receiver for whom the Cowboys have traded a first-round pick during the Jones era. The previous two deals, for the Seahawks' Joey Galloway and the Lions' Roy Williams, are two of the worst in franchise history.
It's worth noting, too, that Cooper knelt for the national anthem as part of widespread protests in September 2017, something Jones has said he will not tolerate from Cowboys players.