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The Dallas Cowboys Won The Amari Cooper Trade

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D.S. Williamson

October 23rd, 2018

As far as trades go, this one’s simple: Amari Cooper goes to Dallas, and the Oakland Raiders get another first rounder in the 2019 NFL Draft. Gruden will now have the Raiders' pick, Chicago's pick and Dallas's pick to restock his depleted roster.

Who knows where any of those teams will end up by the end of the season? Chicago and Dallas are both scrappy. Meanwhile, Oakland is imploding on itself as it triggers a very unexpected rebuild. This trade also comes on the heels of the team announcing that Marshawn Lynch is now out for (pretty much) the remainder of the season.

To be fair, everyone pretty much lambasted the Cowboys for giving up a first round pick for a first round bust. The Khalil Mack trade is still a loss for Oakland by everyone's account, but this move is actually a bit more nuanced than a first glance reveals.

Did Oakland Raiders Really "Win"?

Hard to say. On the surface, who wouldn’t want three first rounders? Well, as we see every year, the NFL Draft is a crapshoot. A third rounder could flourish while a third overall pick busts. You just never know, and football is especially cruel and unusual in this regard. Just look at Oakland's recent debacles in the first round of the draft.

Oakland swapped first round picks with Arizona this past April, and took OT Kolton Miller out of UCLA. Miller’s become a starter along an offensive line that’s allowed 17 sacks in only 6 games.  There's always a chance that he becomes a decent player in the trenches, but that has more to do with offensive linemen simply grading out better long term than other positions. Everyone thought that Gruden and the Raiders reached for Miller with the 15th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Relative to the players selected after him like Calvin Ridley, Derwin James and others, Miller's chances of being a "bust" are higher than his chances of panning out.

This basically goes to reiterate that the Raiders, and Jon Gruden, don't have a great track record when it comes to drafting. Maybe they just wanted to get something back in return for Amari Cooper, who is also owed $13.9 million in 2019 and will be seeking an extension this summer. In that regard, Amari Cooper isn't worth the money compared to his statistical impact (280 yards, 1 touchdown in 2018). Cooper might also be better than the first rounder the Raiders end up selecting, and that's ultimately the hardest part about grading this for Oakland at the moment.

If you look at this as a salary dump with a chance to start anew, it's a great move. Cooper's contract value is (sort of) debatable. Was he worth a first overall pick in return? Absolutely not...until you consider Dallas's context.

Cowboys Are Now NFC East Contenders

Let's put the Amari Cooper trade in to a bit of perspective. The NFC East is a mess right now, and any improvement by a Cowboys team that is actually in the mix, is going to put them further towards a playoff appearance.

No matter what you think of Amari Cooper, his presence improves the Cowboys’ passing attack, which means Jerry Jones made the right move. Dallas ranks 29th in passing yards per at 183.1, which is abymsal. Because they can’t pass the ball, Cowboys have relied on its defense and rushing attack. Zeke is an outstanding player, but it's tough for any runner to be consistently successful when he's facing a full box. Dallas piles up 136.9 rushing yards per game (3rd). Jerry saw that and thought, “Heck!  We’re rushing the ball even though everyone knows we can’t pass the ball!”

Then, he looked at the other side and saw how his defense holds opponents to 17.6 points against (2nd). After seeing that, Jones cried, “Oh, man! If I can get a WR1, think about how good we’d be!”

I agree with Jerry Jones. Dallas is 3-4 SU, but only 1 team has scored more than 20 points against them. Opponents can’t stop Dallas’ run game while Cooper should open the middle for guys like Swaim, Beasley and the rest of the team. Cooper may not fit the bill as a true WR1, but Cooper was likely the best available player they could go out and get mid-season.

It's fair to say that Amari Cooper may not warrant a first-round pick, but the NFC East is also wide open and the Cowboys are gunning for the top spot. On paper, having three draft picks in the first round looks great, but there's no such thing as a guaranteed lock in the draft. Looks to me like Dallas won the Amari Cooper trade.

The Cowboys are +230 to win the NFC East, right in line with Philadelphia (+180) and Washington (+130). The New York Giants (who have problems as it is) are +5000.
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