The Dallas Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns this offseason, leaving the team with CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and James Washington as its top receivers, and one of those guys is ready to take over as Dak Prescott's No. 1 target in 2022.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Lamb said he has "been ready" to be Dallas' top receiver for a while.
"I've been ready. That’s just me and my competitiveness," Lamb said. "That’s in my nature. I’m always ready for my name to be called."
When the Cowboys traded Cooper to the Browns, team owner Jerry Jones said the franchise made the decision to part ways with him because it felt the veteran receiver's $20 million salary "should be better spent."
Dallas went on to extend the contracts of Gallup, DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch. It also added Washington, Dante Fowler Jr. and Ryan Nall via free agency.
The Cowboys have every reason to be confident in Lamb's ability to be their No. 1 receiver after selecting him 17th overall in the 2020 NFL draft.
During his rookie season, Lamb caught 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games. He was even more impressive during the 2021 campaign, catching 79 passes for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games.
The 23-year-old led the team in receiving yards last season and ranked second on the team in receiving yards during his rookie year.
While he will draw more attention in 2022, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy appears confident that Lamb can be the team's top receiver in 2022 and beyond, telling reporters that the opportunity is there for him to succeed in his third year in the NFL.
"This is a great opportunity for him personally. I think just the way we've established the offense, particularly in the passing game, the ability for those guys to play different positions, to create matchups and make it harder on the defense to double you and those type of things -- my point is, playing in the slot a lot last year and now playing the flanker position (where Cooper played).
"And we understand his rise in Year 3 that he's going to get a lot more attention from the defense. But he's doing all of the little things that are needed to get him ready to be the No. 1 guy."
In addition to trading Cooper, the Cowboys lost wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, which will put even more pressure on Lamb to succeed in 2022.
The Cowboys are also expected to be without Gallup for the start of the season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. In addition, Washington is wearing a walking boot, but told reporters Wednesday that it's nothing to worry about.
Aside from Lamb, Gallup and Washington, the Cowboys depth at wide receiver includes Noah Brown, Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, Brandon Smith, Ty Fryfogle, T.J. Vasher, Donatario Drummond, Dennis Houston and Jaquarii Roberson.
Lamb will get to showcase his abilities as the team's leading receiver when the Cowboys open the 2022 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium.