In his first season with the Browns, Cooper brought an air of professionalism to the field that was backed up by actual production as he finished the season with 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns.
General manager Andrew Berry got all that for the low price of a fifth-round selection (No. 155 overall) and a swap of sixth-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, with the Cowboys receiving the No. 193 overall selection and the Browns getting the No. 202 overall selection in return.
With that pick, the Browns selected wide receiver Mike Woods II out of Oklahoma, who ended up appearing in 10 games and finished his rookie campaign with five receptions for 45 yards, while also adding 85 snaps on special teams.
The key component of the trade was Cooper, of course, and it is safe to say the Browns were happy with their side of the deal.
For their part, the Cowboys used the fifth-round pick they received to select offensive tackle Matt Waletzko and the sixth-round pick to select linebacker Devin Harper.
While you would not necessarily expect a pair of low-round rookies to play much on a playoff team like the Cowboys, Waletzko only played one snap on offense and 11 snaps on special teams before landing on the injured reserve list in October. Harper also appeared in three games, all on special teams, before joining Waletzko on the injured reserve list later in October.
Even with those poor early returns on the trade, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claims to still be happy with the decision to move on from Cooper given that it opened up more than $20 million in cap space for the club, according to an article from Michael David Smith at Pro Football Talk:
“When I look at the salary involved, over $20 million a year, and I look at what we got with that salary to help this team that we wouldn’t have been able to have with this team, had we kept him, I like what we did.”
What did the Cowboys do with that extra cash? Glad you asked!
A look at some of the moves the Cowboys made, courtesy of Blogging the Boys, shows that the team:
- Placed the franchise tag on tight end Dalton Schultz (57 receptions, 577 yards and five touchdowns this past season)
- Signed wide receiver Michael Gallup to a five-year, $62 million contract (39 receptions for 424 yards and four touchdowns in 2022)
- Brought in wide receiver James Washington (the Terry Robiskie line of zero catches for zero yards) and defensive end Dante Fowler (27 tackles and six sacks) on one-year deals
- And signed a whole bunch of other players to one- and two-year deals.
Look, admittedly it is a bit silly to point the finger at a team that went 12-5 and made the playoffs and say “ha, ha” while the Browns bumbled their way to a seven-win season and a last-place finish in the AFC North.
But when it comes to who is truly happy with the Amari Cooper trade, the numbers reveal that only one side might be fully satisfied with the way things turned out.