FRISCO - Can CeeDee Lamb star as the Dallas Cowboys' No. 1 receiver?
Easy answer: He damn-sure better.
Dallas' salary-dump trade of receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns was doable in part because of the expectations placed on Lamb, their first-round pick in 2020.
It should be a natural ascension: Lamb, selected in the No. 17 slot, was the No. 3 player on the Dallas board in that NFL Draft. He's made a Pro Bowl. He's made spectacular plays. He's been anointed into "The 88 Club'' by predecessors Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant ...
And Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who envisioned the marketing value of another member of that club and therefore pushed the Oklahoma product Lamb into taking that jersey.
By trading Cooper, the Cowboys open up $16 million in cap room; that's just business, as much as it at least temporarily weakens the roster. And while there are plans to reload with the re-signing of injury-rehabbing Michael Gallup, Dallas may be priced out of also retaining two other free-agent wideouts, Cedrick Wilson and Malik Turner.
So it's CeeDee Lamb's time. It has to be.
In his first two NFL seasons, Lamb has 153 catches for 2,037 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2021, was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 (as an alternate) after a fine season of 79 receptions for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns.
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But along with the spectacular catches has come some inconsistency. He's struggled mostly with some drops. And no matter who's to blame, he's had some games where he's been invisible - most recently Dallas' Wild Card loss to the Niners in which he caught one pass for 21 yards.
The Cowboys have Dak Prescott a $40 million-a-year contract last March with the belief that he would be the centerpiece of a consistently explosive offense. Dallas has achieved "explosiveness'' ... but not "consistency.''
And the same thing goes for Lamb.
The Cowboys will retool the receivers room; there will be bodies there and there might even be weapons there. But the demand will be for one guy to stand above the rest.
That guy is CeeDee Lamb. Because it has to be.
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