THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
FRISCO — Amari Cooper has been hesitant to discuss his contract negotiations in public. Part of his reluctance stems from a belief that all of this will work out.
Besides, he’d rather focus on continuing to build his rapport with Dak Prescott and the art of route running. Does this imply that Cooper’s oblivious to what the NFL’s top receivers are paid?
“I mean, I don’t know exactly what they’re getting,” Cooper said Wednesday after the Cowboys completed their next-to-last practice before training camp. “I ain’t counting nobody’s pockets. But my agent told me what the market was.
“I know the neighborhood.”
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. tops the list with an average of $18 million. The next six receivers average from $16 to $16.7 million.
A contract that’s average falls somewhere between $16 and $18 million. Is that Cooper’s neighborhood?
“You tell me,” Cooper responded.
Well, that’s what the current market dictates. Atlanta’s Julio Jones and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas could alter the range if they sign before Cooper.
“OK, then that’s your answer,” he said.
Cooper declined to pinpoint where he should fall in that range, pulling out the trope about how that’s above his pay grade and pointing out that he has “highly trained professionals” in place to handle the negotiations.
The Cowboys receiver enters the final year of his contract scheduled to make slightly more than $13.9 million. He said it doesn’t “really matter to me” if he has a new deal in place before the season starts in September and added he rarely checks with representative Joel Segal about the status of negotiations with the Cowboys.
“I haven’t talked to him in a minute,” Cooper said. “I don’t even like talking about the contract with him.
“I just handle my business. I’m more anxious about camp and actually playing football.”
The impact Cooper made on the Cowboys offense last season after his trade from Oakland was immediate and dramatic. Although he didn’t step on the field with a star on his helmet until Week Nine, he finished with 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns. He caught 13 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown in his postseason encore.
All of this was done before Prescott and Cooper spent an offseason together. Both men are excited about taking their instant connection to the next level.
“I might know the play, but I don’t know how Dak wants to throw it,” Cooper said of last season. “I don’t know his thought process. I don’t know his favorite route to throw on that particular play.
“You talk about those little things and kind of pick his brain. Now I know exactly what he’s thinking. The more I know what he’s thinking on every play, the better it is for me.”
And this offense.
Cooper touched on a variety of topics as long as he could. But his conversation with reporters invariably returned to his contract.
The question: why did he chose to take part in every aspect of the team’s offseason program rather than sit out an organized team activity or two to stress his desire to receive a new contract sooner rather than later?
“I just want to get better and I love football,” Cooper said. “That’s why I’m here.
“I love coming out here doing seven-on-seven, routes on air, team periods and being able to showcase my ability, to be able to run routes. It’s like the greatest thing to me.
“It’s kind of like art to me. It’s like a painter drawing. That’s how I feel every time I run a route.
“I mean, I would come out and run routes even if I wasn’t getting paid because I just love it so much.”
Cooper doesn’t have to worry. The Cowboys will pay him to run routes.
It’s only a question of when and how much.