ORLANDO, Fla. — Amari Cooper played the final season of his rookie contract in 2019, and with free agency looming, his future is uncertain.
With more than a month before the official start of free agency, he’s not stressing over it — yet. There is a chance he lands elsewhere, though, if he and the Cowboys can’t work out a new deal before then.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” Cooper said Thursday after Pro Bowl practice. “I don’t really feel like there’s nothing that’s imminent. I’m not anxious, I’m not apprehensive. I’m just living life.”
There’s little reason at this point to spend time fixated on his future, but he does have a few factors to consider before making a decision. When asked by a reporter Thursday about what influences decisions in relation to less-desirable cities like the reporter’s chosen example of Buffalo, Cooper responded with “location, location, location.” When the reporter countered with “money, money, money,” Cooper made it clear compensation is significant but not all-important.
“I don’t think it’s all about money,” Cooper said. “… If you’re a highly touted free agent, you’re going to get paid a lot of money no matter where you go. Is it worth it to go somewhere that you probably don’t want to go as far as, you might be a guy like me who’s from South Florida who’s never played a game in the snow?
“Is it worth a million dollars more a year or two million dollars more a year, especially if you’re taking care of your money investment-wise, is it worth that two being in an environment that you don’t want to be in? Or would you like to stay somewhere in the south? It’s not all about money.”
There’s also the importance of the quarterback in a pass-first league and a profession for Cooper that is inherently dependent on the ability of the person throwing the ball to him. Cooper described it as a “symbiotic relationship” and one that would undoubtedly factor into his decision-making process.
“His success is part of how good I’m doing and my success is part of how good he’s doing,” Cooper said. “So I definitely, if I had to test the market I’d definitely be evaluating quarterbacks and stuff like that to see if I want to play with them or not.”
Cooper found such success with his move from Oakland to Dallas, racking up 1,914 receiving yards in 27 games played with Dak Prescott in between the final nine contests of the 2018 season and all of 2019. He also completed his best season of his career in 2019, posting career-high marks in receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (8).
Such achievement was seemingly lost in the midst of a frustrating campaign for the talented Cowboys, who finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Their trudge to a January spent at home was all but sealed by a close and equally disheartening Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which preceded an eventual parting of ways between Dallas and head coach Jason Garrett.
“That game was so important because it decided whether or not we’d go to the playoffs,” Cooper told NFL.com. “Obviously, if you go to the playoffs you have an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. We had our fate in our own hands and we blew it, so then we had to rely on other stuff to happen for us to get into the playoffs. You never want to put yourself in that position where you don’t control your own destiny.”
Cooper’s destiny now rests in his own hands. Whether that will include a new contract in Dallas or a move elsewhere remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, though: While the Cowboys will have a projected $81 million in cap space to work with (per Over The Cap), for Cooper, it won’t be just about the money.