Amari Cooper had a breakout game for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and the boss was watching.
The 24-year-old wide receiver, traded by the Raiders to Dallas before Week 9 this season, played his fourth game for Cowboys and was a one-man wrecking crew in a 31-23 win over the Redskins.
Cooper amassed 180 yards on eight receptions, including touchdowns of 90 yards and 40 yards. It was his third-career two-touchdown game and first since October 2017.
As always, team owner Jerry Jones had his own take on the events, and he said Cooper was making a clear statement.
“That Amari looked like he’s making a bid for some cash,” Jones said after the game.
Along with quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, Cooper represents part of a young core the suddenly first-place Cowboys would love to keep together.
Jones is hoping he has a new trio to rival his Super Bowl-winning “Triplets” – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin – but such a group won’t be cheap to keep together, beginning with Cooper.
Cooper is set to make $13.9 million in 2019 and becomes a free agent in 2020, when he will likely command WR1 money, barring an injury.
Elliott, a first-round pick in 2016 (No. 4 overall), and Prescott, a 2016 fourth-rounder, also will be due for raises shortly after that.
All of this means unless Jones is willing to bust out his check book, the Cowboys’ Super Bowl window could close just as quickly as it seemed to be opening.