Amari Cooper, Contracts Cowboys Must Consider Cutting in 2022 OffseasonJanuary 31, 2022
Amari Cooper, Contracts Cowboys Must Consider Cutting in 2022 Offseason
The Dallas Cowboys exited the 2021-22 postseason in the Wild Card Round. Over the weekend, they watched as the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals punched their tickets to Super Bowl LVI. Presumably, Dallas wants to be where the Rams and Bengals currently are. Wholesale changes to the coaching staff won't be part of the process, however.
Mike McCarthy's job is safe, and the Cowboys won't be losing defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to a head-coaching opening. That was clearly a big win for Dallas.
"We were trying to keep Dan Quinn and maintain continuity on the coaching staff," franchise owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan (h/t ESPN's Todd Archer).
If the Cowboys are going to be more than a playoff also-ran, they're going to have to make improvements on the field. They'll need to find some financial flexibility to do that, as Dallas is projected to be $21.1 million over the cap this offseason. With this in mind, let's examine a few contracts that Dallas must at least consider cutting this offseason.
It's always unfortunate when a player loses a job to injury. However, if parting with Blake Jarwin can help Dallas retain Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys need to make the move.
Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference. Contract information via Spotrac.
WR Amari Cooper
Jones did not sound happy with Amari Cooper's inability to dictate coverage during the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
"Amari Cooper should take half the field w/ him when he runs a route...a whole bunch of that defense ought to have to honor Cooper," he said, per The Athletic's Jon Machota.
This isn't why the Cowboys could consider Cooper a potential cut candidate, though. The reality is that Cooper wasn't as effective in 2021 as he has been. After two 1,100-yard campaigns, the 27-year-old finished the 2021 season with 865 yards and eight touchdowns.
That's solid production, but it doesn't justify Cooper's $22 million cap hit next season.
If Dallas desperately wants to clear cap space, parting with the four-time Pro Bowler is an obvious option. Doing so would save $16 million against the cap and open the door for CeeDee Lamb to become the Cowboys' unquestioned No. 1 receiver.
K Greg Zuerlein
The Cowboys shouldn't look to move on from kicker Greg Zuerlein until they have a good replacement in place. Cutting him, though, would save $2.5 million against the cap and open the door for a special teams improvement.
Zuerlein was serviceable in 2021 but marginally so. During the regular season, he missed six field-goal attempts and a whopping six point-after tries. He has now made less than 83 percent of his field-goal attempts in two straight seasons.
The 34-year-old simply isn't the reliable weapon he was as an All-Pro in 2017 with Los Angeles Rams. He's missed nine extra points and 13 field goals over the last two years in Dallas, and that's a problem.
It's time for the Cowboys to seek an upgrade at kicker while saving a bit of valuable cap room.
TE Blake Jarwin
Tight end Dalton Schultz is an impending free agent, and re-signing him should be a priority for the Cowboys. This past season, Schultz caught 78 passes for 808 yards and eight touchdowns and proved himself to be one of the team's most reliable pass-catchers.
The Cowboys are going to have to clear cap space to keep the 25-year-old, though. They could create a little by parting with fellow tight end Blake Jarwin.
The 27-year-old is set to carry a cap hit of $5.9 million in 2022. Dallas could save $3.9 million of that by cutting him.
While Jarwin was a solid piece of the puzzle in 2018 and 2019, he's been much less of a factor since—due in large part to injuries. Jarwin underwent ACL surgery in 2020 and landed on injured reserve with a hip injury in 2021.
Over the past two years, Jarwin has appeared in only nine games and logged a mere 12 receptions.