FRISCO, Texas -- The stretch run isn’t exactly the time to think about the big picture, but Amari Cooper was willing to indulge it just a bit.
Speaking for the first time in a while about his looming contract situation, Cooper reiterated his interest in re-signing long-term with the Cowboys.
“Like I just said, I love it here,” Cooper said. “I want to be here. I just love this situation, my teammates. I just feel it’s the place for me.”
It’s easy to understand why he feels that way. The Cowboys’ decision to trade a first-round pick for Cooper last season has panned out better than most would have expected -- probably better than even the Cowboys, to be honest.
In just 21 games in Dallas, Cooper has caught 117 balls for 1,696 yards and 13 touchdowns, sparking an offense that had been completely stagnant before he arrived.
Cooper himself even acknowledged that, given his success since arriving here, why would he want to leave behind a good situation?
“I’ve approached the situation like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Obviously, I’m more productive here than I was in Oakland, so why would I want to change things?”
On the surface, that’s not shocking to hear. From the time he got here, Cooper has seemed like a perfect fit with the organization.
Obviously, it does raise questions, though. There has been speculation about Cooper’s future since last season ended, given that this is a contract year for the 2015 first-round pick.
Much like with Dak Prescott, that speculation raged all throughout the offseason and training camp, but it has cooled since the season started. If both sides see a long-term future here, it is curious why a deal hasn’t been struck.
The longer the situation lasts, the more the speculation ramps up. With just four weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s fair to wonder whether the Cowboys will need to use the franchise tag on their star receiver, whether a deal will be reached or whether Cooper could conceivably test the free agent market.
For his part, Cooper said he’s not worrying about that with four games left to play.
“I’m not going to put the cart before the horse. We’re still in the season,” he said. “I haven’t given much thought to it.”
Instead, Cooper is working through another injury to get right in time for Thursday’s game against Chicago. Anyone who saw the hit he took to his knee on Thanksgiving would be forgiven for thinking he might miss some time.
Cooper himself was surprised when he woke up the next day and wasn’t in as much pain as he thought he’d be.
“I thought it was pretty bad. I thought it would linger,” he said. “It’s healed better than I thought it would.”
With the work that’s left for the Cowboys to do, that’s probably about as much of the big picture as they need to see. But even as he focuses on the hear and know, it’s nice to know what Cooper thinks about the future.