The Dallas Cowboys began working on the Amari Cooper trade well before last Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins.
Owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones initiated talks with Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKinzie last week and began going over the short-term and long-term ramifications.
The scouting department then began a complete workup on Cooper with Jones talking personally with former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and coach Jason Garrett talking to Alabama coach Nick Saban to get a thorough evaluation of him as an individual and a player.
So the Cowboys were well down the road when Jones appeared to avoid the media in the locker room following the Redskins game. He was seen in the corner of the training room huddled with Stephen Jones and scouting direction Will McClay.
Jones then left via a side door without talking to the media for one reason and one reason only. He said he was very involved from the beginning and didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag.
“We were actually discussing logistics there Sunday night while the team was in the dressing room,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “I had several things on my mind and I didn’t want to hem and haw around about it. You know, I can’t keep a secret. So the bottom line is, I thought it was best to move on.”
The Cowboys completed the trade on Monday, sending a first-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for Cooper.
Jones says Cooper is “as advertised in terms of just his conscientiousness, how he approaches it, his work ethic” to go along with “unique skills.”
Jones also bowed up against the accusation that the move was an admission that the team’s plan to head to the season with a receiver-by-committee approach following the release of Dez Bryant on April 13 was a failure.
He pointed out that the Cowboys tried to sign a No. 1 receiver at the start of free agency when they failed to acquire Sammy Watkins, who chose the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t attempt to sign a receiver in free agency,” Jones said. “Everything has to fit, though. Everything has to fall in place. We have been looking at receivers throughout the offseason and into this season.”
Jones expects Cooper to make an immediate impact and “change the dynamic” of the Cowboys offense “the minute he walks on the field” on Nov. 5 for Monday Night Football.
But he said the deal was made with the future in mind as well.
Cooper’s age, 24, and talent to be a core foundational piece for the future are the reasons that Jones was willing to give up a first-round pick for him.
“Make no mistake about it, that’s where all the consternation was about this move, that first round pick,” Jones said. “We really thought that if we had the opportunity that it was likely that a receiver if an outstanding receiver were there, would be the pick [in the first-round of 2019 NFL Draft]. His youth had everything to do with it. And then the caliber of player that he was.”
“We knew we had the opportunity here to get a player that frankly is proven, and have real youth involved so we can look at it long-term. We wouldn’t give that first-round pick up if it wasn’t for the long-term. And the other thing we can do is step in here and have immediate value for him for this year. I’m excited.”
Jones said it wasn’t just about desperation this year that prompted the move, but about the opportunity to add to what the Cowboys already have.
“I really do think the makeup of this group, the talent level on both sides of the ball,” Jones said. “I think we have something special here. Any time we can keep in step with that, keep that footprint going forward, I’m on board with that.”