FRISCO - "That's crazy!''
That was CeeDee Lamb's first reaction upon learning on March 12 that "big brother'' receiver Amari Cooper had been traded to the Cleveland Browns.
The part that he doesn't find "crazy''? His elevation to the No. 1 spot on the wideout totem pole.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’” Lamb said this week on Mike Silver’s podcast, Open Mike. “And then my phone started blowing up literally minutes after. It’s been a crazy story ever since.”
Cooper, of course, was a salary-dump trade, Dallas escaping a $20 million base salary that management decided was unpalatable (in part because some here inside The Star didn't like what they thought was an at-times lack of effort from the Pro Bowler) in exchange for a lowly fifth-round selection.
But part of the reason for the deal is the in-house assumption that Lamb - who as a matter of record outperformed Cooper statistically last year (CeeDee had more catches at 79 and more yards at 1,102 than Cooper to go along with his six touchdowns) - is ready to take the top spot.
“It kind of, in a sense, raised the standard,” Lamb said. “Obviously, I hold myself to a high standard already, but at this moment there’s nothing else you can really do but take it on. That’s the energy I have.”
There are skeptics here; NFL Network is predicting that Lamb won't even be Dallas' receptions leader, a rather ridiculous notion to anyone who has visited with QB Dak Prescott on the subject.
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"He’s the guy," said Prescott, and indeed, Lamb did stand out during offseason sessions inside The Star (See "Top 20 Takes.'') "Just being young, hopefully he’s my receiver until I’m done playing."
Lamb has repeatedly noted that Cooper mentored him upon CeeDee's entry into the NFL as a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Just wanted to thank him for everything he had done for me in the first two years,” Lamb said. “Those are real important to me and my direction and trying to find a place in this league where there’s a lot of great receivers. A lot of guys can do a lot of things well in this position. Just giving him his roses for taking me under his wing.”
And now, with Cooper gone - and with Dallas a bit shorthanded at the position while Michael Gallup rehabs after knee surgery - it's CeeDee Lamb who will have to use his wings ... and spread them.
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