Cowboys 'To-Do List' Criticisms, Part 2: 'What To Do With Amari Cooper?'

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - The respected Bill Barnwell offers up a series at ESPN billed as being about "the first five things (NFL teams) should be thinking about as they prepare for the new league year, which begins on March 18.''

In reviewing it, we sense a "Dallas sucks'' tone as much as we do an analytical one. Maybe it's due to the fact that the 8-8 record from 2019 colors every single thing about the Cowboys in tones of disappointment. But we're not sure that's fair ... and so we tackle Barnwell's analysis of the Cowboys with our analysis of Bill's analysis ... all this week, a five-part series on Bill's five parts, which are about:

1) Lock Up Dak (read our thoughts on it here), 2) Transition-Tag Amari, 3) Build Around Tank, 4) Sign a Star DB and 5) Find a Tight End. Today, Part 2, Transition-Tag Amari ....

Barnwell Job 2. Transition tag Amari Cooper on the way to an extension. 

Barnwell writes: "Given how aggressively the Cowboys restructure deals, they can create plenty of cap room to retain Prescott and at least one of their other star free agents without much effort. ...

"Injuries appear to be part of the reality with Cooper. ... There's no doubting his toughness, but ...

"Even with that reality, the Cowboys can't justify moving on from Cooper after trading away a first-round pick to grab him from the Raiders in 2018. If they can get a deal done with Prescott, they should franchise Cooper; if not, they should start with the transition tag and work quickly toward an extension. There are going to be teams that take a shot at signing Cooper without any compensation attached.''

FISH'S TAKE: To the bullet points!

*The planned Dak and Amari signings will not be the result of Dallas "restructuring deals'' "creating cap room.'' The Cowboys have $80 mil in cap room right now, with big chunks of that money already earmarked for the long-term retention of the two stars.

*Regarding injuries and toughness: There are in fact people here inside The Star who absolutely have questions about those two issues as it relates to paying $20 mil APY to a player who so often performs at a high level but who also seems to disappear at times "when the going gets tough.''

See our Video Visit with Amari below, in which he speaks with us very candidly about injuries and toughness. It is an issue. It is a thing. It cannot be dismissed simply because Dallas traded a first-rounder for him.

In the end, Barnwell's view on Cooper's retention mirrors ours - and likely mirrors Dallas' as well. It would be beneficial for Dallas to sign Prescott by March 10, and for Dallas to sign Cooper by March 10 as well, thus avoiding the tags altogether. But trust us when we tell you that the $18.5 million guaranteed to Amari in the event he's non-exclusive-tagged makes some people here inside Cowboys HQ a bit fidgety.

Part 1 on "Dealing with Dak'' is here. Part 3 (Build Around Tank') will be published Wednesday.