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Deshaun Watson on minicamp holdout Amari Cooper: “He’s the best in the game”

Two years ago, the Cowboys decided that receiver Amari Cooper’s $20 million per year contract was too rich for their silver-and-blue blood. Now, Cooper has decided that it’s not nearly enough.

And he’s right.

The market at the position has changed dramatically since the Cowboys unloaded Cooper’s contract onto the Browns, at a time when the Cowboys would have cut him if they couldn’t have found a trade partner. Also, the salary cap has spiked, repeatedly.

Now, Cooper is skipping mandatory minicamp in an effort to get a new deal as he enters the final season of his contract, at a base salary of $20 million.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was asked about Cooper’s situation on Tuesday.

“He’s the best in the game, and I believe that,” Watson told reporters. “He shows it each and every year. He showed it the last two years with different quarterbacks. So, I think you got to put him up there, if not the best.”

Watson also said he has no problem with Cooper taking a stand.

“Amari is our brother, our teammate, we support him, and the decisions that he got to make for himself is on Amari,” Watson said. “But everyone in this locker room respects him and knows exactly what he’s about. And whenever he gets back, he’s going to be ready to go. . . . He’s got to handle what he got to handle, and nobody is looking any different on him. And like I said, we all support him. And he was here this weekend with us, and we had a good time.”

That’s the right way for any quarterback to handle a teammate who’s trying to get more money. Show support, and stay out of the way.

It’s a far cry from one of the prime examples of what a quarterback shouldn’t do when a teammate is trying to get paid. In May 2005, Brett Favre openly chastised receiver Javon Walker’s effort to get a better deal from the Packers.

“If Javon wants to know what his quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I’d tell him he’s going about this the wrong way,” Favre said. “When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I’d tell him I’ve been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you.”

Favre kept going in his pro-management rant, which came just days after the team drafted his inevitable replacement, Aaron Rodgers.

“Maybe I’m old-school, but I always thought you honor a contract,” Favre said. “Sure, sometimes guys pass you up in salary, and maybe it’s a lesser player, but it’s all based on what a team has as far as value in that person.”

It got worse. “I sure hope the Packers don’t give in to him,” Favre said.

And this: “We can win without him.”

The game has changed dramatically since 2005, with fans and media realizing the risks of football give players a finite window to get paid, with a very real possibility that the compensation will come with chronic physical pain and potential mental problems later in life.

Fortunately, no quarterback since Favre has attacked a teammate who was simply looking to get fair compensation. Watson, on Tuesday, said exactly what he needed to say to show support for a teammate who believes that, in the last year of a contract that has become obsolete given changes to the market and increases in the salary cap, he deserves an adjustment.