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Amari Cooper Rumors: Can Cowboys Trade Star WR?

“I don’t make those decisions,” Amari says of returning to Dallas. “I honestly don’t know, but hopefully.”

FRISCO - Is Amari Cooper "gone''?

In the aftermath of Dallas’ upset loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Wild Card Weekend, Twitter is suddenly abuzz with speculation about the Cowboys future of Amari Cooper.

“This team will be nothing like you just saw in 2021,” Bryan Broaddus of 105.3 The Fan said on Sunday. “(Team COO) Stephen Jones knows that. It’s why Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) and Amari were sad in post game.”

And this: “I feel like Amari Cooper’s gone,” 105.3 The Fan’s Bobby Belt wrote. “That’s just a sense I get; nobody’s told me that.”

The facts are, the Cowboys haven't finalized their decision here. There are roster-talent ramifications and there are salary-cap ramifications. The front office this week is meeting on subjects like this and many more.

And one of the reasons we cannot yet be certain of Cooper's fate? Cooper isn't certain of Cooper's fate.

“I don’t make those decisions,” he said of returning to Dallas. “I honestly don’t know, but hopefully.”

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Cooper - the Pro Bowl perennial who had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown amid the 23-17 defeat at AT&T Stadium, and who during the season posted 865 receiving yards and eight TDs on 68 catches - did not have his greatest season. If we're simply judging those numbers against his salary, there is a "value'' issue.

But there are a few things worth noting here, including the fact that Cooper, 28, recently purchased a $6 million home in North Texas (a suggestion that he's forecasting remaining here). He does have a five-year, $100 million pact, putting him under contract with Dallas through 2024. But the deal (which has him scheduled to count $22 million against the team’s salary cap next season) is escapable. While his $20 million base salary will become fully guaranteed if rostered on the fifth day of the 2022 league year, he can he moved after June 1 with only $2 million of dead money remaining.

The Cowboys can therefore create $20 million of space. (They could also part ways with him prior to June 1, which would free $16 million but increase the dead-money hit to $6 million.)

By the way, while some media outlets have used the word "moved'' to mean "traded,'' we see it as being "released''; we're not sure which NFL team wants to pay $22 million for a wideout.

Dallas is up against it, cap-wise. Room of $16 mil to $20 mil would be valuable. But if Cooper is gone, wouldn't the Cowboys need to buy a receiver to replace him? CeeDee Lamb is in place and under contract. But fellow starter Michael Gallup is headed for unrestricted free agency (while dealing with offseason injury rehab) and Cedrick Wilson is a free agent, too.

Broaddus' assertion that “this team will be nothing like you just saw in 2021'' is obviously a hyperbolic one; it's likely that 60 to 70 percent of this roster will stay intact. But there are expensive pieces (Elliott included) that didn't pay off for the Cowboys in the end. And now comes a 2022 decision about whether Amari Cooper at $20 million-plus is going to pay off.