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November 29, 2018

Mailbag: Was the Cowboys' trade for Amari Cooper good after all?

In our Eagles chat this week, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Dr. FanDualiwitz: Was the Cowboys’ trade for Amari Cooper still not worth it? They might win the friggin division because of it.

Cooper has obviously been very good for them since they got him, but I still think it was a bad trade.

To begin, the first round pick is an extremely valuable resource, obviously, especially for Dallas. While their front office makes a lot of dumb moves, the one thing they have done really well is draft in the first round:

• 2010: Dez Bryant

• 2011: Tyron Smith

• 2012: Morris Claiborne

• 2013: Travis Frederick

• 2014: Zack Martin

• 2015: Byron Jones

• 2016: Ezekiel Elliott

• 2017: Taco Charlton

• 2018: Leighton Vander Esch

There is one definitive miss there so far (we’ll see what happens Charlton before calling him a miss).

The value of the first-round draft pick aside, there's also the matter of Cooper's pay. In 2019, Cooper is scheduled to count for a whopping $13,924,000 against the cap on his fifth-year option.

Knowing that the Cowboys aren't going to cut a player they just spent a first-round pick to acquire, Cooper and his camp have all kinds of leverage to either earn a lucrative long-term deal, or play out the 2019 season making just under $14 million.

The Cowboys already have to pay Dak Prescott, Demarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones, and Jaylon Smith over the next two years. Prescott is going to make way over $20 million/year (probably closer to $30 million than $20 million), Lawrence will come close to $20 million/year, Zeke will be up around the $15 million/year range, while Jones and Smith could both fetch over $10 million/year.

If Cooper were to sign a contract extension this offseason, what will that cost? Considering Sammy Watkins just got $16 million/year, Jarvis Landry just got $15 million/year, and Stefon Diggs just got $14 million/year, you can bet that Cooper is in for a pay day greater than those guys, especially if the perception is that the Cowboys won the division as a result of acquiring him, as you mentioned in your question.

Anyway, if the Cowboys traded for Cooper hoping he helps them win the worst division in football, then obviously that’s not a goal worth a first-round pick. If they made that trade thinking that he puts them over the top, as in, in the conversation to go to the Super Bowl, then they are delusional about the talent currently on their roster.

It's a few games. If he turns out to be, say, a top 10-15 receiver over a long period of time, then sure, great trade. But looking at the big picture, long-term, I strongly believe the Cowboys would be much better off with their draft pick, who will comparatively make peanuts over the next four years, and yet is still likely to be a good player.

Question from Rich: Jimmy, true or false:

• Dallas wins Thursday

• Darren Sproles plays Monday

• Nigel Bradham is a better MLB than Jordan Hicks

• (Dak + Zeke + Cooper) > (Wentz + Adams + Alshon)

False, false, tough call but I’ll say false, and false (I’d take Wentz by himself over those three guys).

Question from Office Linebacker: Do you think Ertz has a legitimate chance to break the single-season TE records for catches and yards.

Receptions? Yes. The record is 110 by Jason Witten in 2012, and Ertz is already at 84, meaning he only needs 26. That’s only 5.2 per game. He’s had fewer than five catches in a game twice this season. He’ll get that record as long as he stays healthy.

Yards? That’ll be tougher. Gronk has the record with 1,327. Ertz currently has 895, so he’d need 432. That’s 86.4 per game, which is certainly doable, but harder than it sounds.

Question from Nate: What would be the ideal team to play in the first round of the playoffs if the Eagles handle their business the next five weeks?

The Panthers. They’re frauds.

Question from Bird Gang: What are the chances that Wentz gets his new contract before next year’s training camp?

I think it happens this offseason.

Question from Norm Snead: If you didn’t have a daughter, if not the Eagles, what NFL team would you want to cover?

Well, as you noted, (a) I’m not moving away from my daughter, but also, (b) PhillyVoice treats me incredibly well, so even if I didn’t have a daughter, I wouldn’t be going anywhere anyway.

With those important disclaimers out of the way, I think my top five would all be out west. I thoroughly enjoyed Nashville and New Orleans this season, but I couldn’t live in either place. In an f-marry-kill scenario, Nashville and New Orleans would be F’s all the way. My top five replacements for Philly are pretty much based on where I’d like to live if not in the Philly area – San Francisco, Los Angeles (so two teams there), Seattle, and Phoenix.

I think the more fun exercise is listing the five teams I’d least want to cover:

5) Raiders: There are just too many things that could go wrong if I lived in Las Vegas.

4) Vikings: Their fans are Charmin soft. The first time I wrote that Kirk Cousins sucks they’d be conspiring to sign up as Uber drivers and taking me to locations I didn’t want to go to.

3) Packers: Yeah, yeah, I know, the mystique. Meh. All that crap is fine and whatever, but I’m not living in Green Bay.

2) Bills: They have great fans, but, I mean, again, who wants to live in Buffalo? I don’t fault LeSean McCoy at all for being angry when he got traded there.

1) WASTEAM: I don’t even like typing “Redskins.” Hm, what else is terrible about this team? Oh, right. Pretty much everything.

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