If perception really does become reality, the Redskins might have a significant problem.
Late Monday night news emerged that wide receiver Amari Cooper chose to stay with the Dallas Cowboys instead of taking more money to play for the Washington Redskins.
Age old proxy suggests that people go where the money is highest. That’s mostly true for accountants and architects and plumbers and contractors. It’s also mostly true, almost always true, in the NFL.
Cooper choosing to stay with the Cowboys despite the Redskins making a very strong offer could suggest many different things, but the overarching message will be Dallas > Washington. That's a problem, because while Redskins fans have almost fully embraced Ron Rivera as the leader to bring the organization out of the Bruce Allen era of darkness, maybe the rest of the NFL hasn't.
Even with Allen gone, Trent Williams is still requesting a trade. Washington whiffed on almost every big name free agent they seemed interested in, notably Cooper but also tight end Austin Hooper.
The narrative that top players don't want to land in Burgundy and Gold will persist, but it doesn't mean it's true.
For months, Cooper talked about wanting to stay with the Cowboys. Sure, most NFL free agents say that about their incumbent team, but it's usually followed with some form of, "But I have to do what's right for my family." Usually the highest bidder wins. With Cooper that wasn't the case, and it seems like he really did just want to stay with Dallas.
Add in the fact that the Cowboys' offense is much further along than the Redskins'. Dallas has a strong offensive line, one of the best running backs in the NFL in Zeke Elliott and a quarterback in Dak Prescott that got Cooper to his best ever season in 2019. Looking at that, the Cowboys offense ranked first in yards in 2019, compared to a Redskins offense that struggled for most of 2019, and it's easy to see why a receiver might elect to stay in silver and blue.
Plus the state of Texas collects no state income tax. The Commonwealth of Virginia would likely charge Cooper close to six percent income tax. On a $100 million contract, that's a big difference, and that's before the Virginia personal property tax gets involved.
From a football perspective, Cooper's decision makes sense. And from a money perspective, Cooper's decision might make sense, depending how much higher the Redskins' offer was than the Cowboys'.
That's the nuanced information to provide Redskins fans some sense of relief. Still, it's not enough.
Washington swung big on Cooper, and missed. The Redskins asked the prettiest girl in high school to the homecoming dance, and really thought they had a date. At the last second, the girl went with her old boyfriend, and Washington was left holding a very expensive corsage and no date.
There will be other options at wide receiver, with Emmanuel Sanders and Robby Anderson topping the list, but neither is Cooper. Sanders is much older, while Anderson has significant off-field baggage.
Cooper was the real deal, a playmaker on a team that needs more of them. And he didn't just not pick the Redskins, he chose to stay with the Cowboys where he will face Washington twice a year.
For Redskins fans staring into the abyss, realize it's just the second day of the NFL's legal tampering period. Many more deals are there to be made. Beyond Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs got traded on Monday. There could be more trades on the horizon.
There was also the good news of a reunion with Kendall Fuller. A local product out of Good Counsel High School and Virginia Tech, many fans hated to see Fuller traded three years ago. Now he's back and will bring professionalism and verstility to the Redskins secondary.
More secondary help could be on the way, as well as offensive line depth and tight end help. Hooper is gone, signed by the Browns, but guys like Eric Ebron and Tylr Eifert are still available.
Losing Cooper hurts, be honest about that. But it also isn't the end of the world. Terry McLaurin can ball. That much is known. The 2020 NFL Draft is deep at wideout, and Washington has other young options that could still develop.
The perception of losing Cooper, especially with more money on the table, may prove worse than the reality of losing Cooper.
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