Dallas Cowboys

Amari Cooper said Raiders owner Mark Davis, not Jon Gruden made trade decision on him

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Clarence Hill gives you five players to watch as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Indianapolis Colts.
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Clarence Hill gives you five players to watch as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Indianapolis Colts.

While in Dallas on Wednesday for the NFL owners meetings, owner Mark Davis tried to offer an explanation to the Oakland Raiders seemingly inexplicable decision to trade standout receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s a decision that’s becoming more foolish by the day with Cooper, the fourth overall pick by the Raiders in 2015, putting on a spectacular show with the Cowboys over the past six weeks.

Cooper has led the Cowboys (8-5) to five wins in six games and first place in the NFC East while leading the NFL in receiving yards (642), first downs (23), first downs on third down (11) and receptions on third down (13). He is tied for the most receiving touchdowns (six).

Davis told reporters at the meetings that Cooper was a great player but just wasn’t a good fit for the Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s West Coast offense, which emphasizes the short pass over the deep ball.

“He was a great, great player. We always had the fastest guy on the field no matter what,” Davis said. “It just didn’t work out in our system. In the future, we might be saying, ‘Damn’.”

Cooper was asked about Davis’ comments on Thursday and scoffed.

Cooper said Gruden nor then general manager Reggie McKenzie made the decision to trade him. It was Davis and Davis alone.

He said Gruden didn’t even know about the trade and it was one that McKenzie didn’t want to make.

But once Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered a 2019 first-round pick, Davis overruled every one, per Cooper “They were getting calls about a first for next year and they weren’t going to do it,” Cooper said. “But when Jerry Jones called about a first for this year he felt he had no choice.”

Cooper said a disappointed McKenzie called him off the practice field that Monday and let him know the decision was out of his hands.

Cooper said he had no problem with Gruden, who has been getting the bulk of the criticism for making the trade. He reiterated that Davis made the decision to do the deal with the Cowboys because of the potential of a 2019 first-round pick.

That pick was a possible Top-10 selection when the trade was made as the Cowboys were 3-4 and became 3-5 and seemingly left for dead one week after a loss in Cooper’s first game.

They have won five straight since and head to Indianapolis Sunday one win away from clinching the NFC East title. If the draft was today the pick would be 25th. It’s little wonder that Davis expressed regret about the decision and gave a knowing nod to Jones when they saw each at the owners’ meetings this week.

“We laughed a little bit,” Davis said “Results is what speaks. That’s what it’s all about.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.