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Stephen Jones on Amari Cooper: Big contracts bring big expectations

Michael Holley and Michael Smith examine what is going on in Dallas after Jerry Jones' comments about Mike McCarthy's job security.

Amari Cooper seems to have fallen out of favor somewhat with Jerry and Stephen Jones.

Jerry Jones expressed frustration at the level of production Cooper delivered this season for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys made Cooper the highest paid receiver in the NFL for the 2021 season with the contract extension they gave him 2020. But Cooper fell short of expectations with 68 receptions for 865 yards along with eight touchdowns.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones hinted at his own frustration with Cooper during a chat with reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Tuesday.

“Well, it’s sometimes not all on the receiver too. It’s scheme. It’s getting the receiver the ball, the touches, the targets that he needs. But if you’re gonna pay somebody a lot of money, you want them to be the best at what they do,” Stephen Jones said. “Whether that’s catching, whether that’s yards, whether that’s receptions, whether that’s touchdowns, whether that’s throwing touchdown passes. Winning football games if you’re a quarterback. Whether it’s a running back if you’re getting your touches and you’re scoring touchdowns and you’re running for yards. I mean all those things. Your pass rushers you want to be getting pressures and making plays. I mean, all those things relate to how a guy’s paid and once you pay that player a lot of money then with that comes high expectations. And they know that. These players know that.”

The Cowboys paid a lot to Cooper in 2021 and expected top-tier results. Instead, he failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in three full seasons in Dallas. His 68 receptions were the second-lowest mark of his career in a full season effort. He also was forced to miss two games due to a positive COVID-19 along with his status as an unvaccinated player.

The Cowboys have some salary cap concerns and Cooper’s contract represents a large portion of that as he carries the third-highest cap number on the team behind Dak Prescott and Demarcus Lawrence for the 2022 season. The Cowboys could save $16 million against the cap by releasing Cooper.

Jones said there would be tough decisions made by the team moving forward.

“That’s the tough part of our business,” Jones said. “As much as we respect these men, they also know that we’ve got to run a business. There’s only so much to go around. And we’ve been saying that since day one. But the right guy has the money right now and that’s No. 4 and from there we’ve got to put the right pieces around him.”