FRISCO, Texas – They sweated through one stressful day, but the Cowboys got their man.
Almost exactly 24 hours after he became an eligible free agent, the Cowboys officially agreed to terms with Amari Cooper on a deal that will keep him in Dallas for quite some time.
After a tense day of negotiations, the deal kicked into place on Monday. On Tuesday morning, the two sides are finalizing a five-year, $100 million contract that makes Cooper one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL.
It was just two weeks ago, with the new league year looming, that Cooper re-affirmed his desire to do this deal. And while the process has been stressful, it fulfills his desire to stay in Dallas for the bulk of his career.
"I love being a Dallas Cowboy. I love everything about it. I think about it every day," Cooper said last week. "Just the aura of being a Dallas Cowboy, you can't beat it. I want to be a Cowboy for life."
The news brings about a welcome end to a saga that has been swirling around the Cowboys since this time last year – but had kicked into over drive in the last 48 hours.
NFL players voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Saturday night, eliminating clubs' abilities to tag two players and prevent them from hitting free agency.
Essentially, starting Sunday morning the Cowboys knew that once they used the franchise tag on Dak Prescott on Monday morning, Cooper would be eligible to hit the open market on Monday afternoon.
That's exactly what happened. And while it led to some uncertain hours, Cooper apparently didn't stray far from the hometown team. Monday saw two high-profile receiver trades, as DeAndre Hopkins was shipped to Arizona while Stefon Diggs was dealt to Buffalo. But as far as free agent signings go, it was a quiet afternoon – right up until Cooper inked his deal late on Monday night.
He wasn't without his suitors. Reports indicate that Cooper fended off a top-dollar offer from Washington before deciding to return to the Cowboys.
The extension makes sure the Cowboys get some long-term use out of the trade they made just 17 months ago. Way back on Oct. 22, 2018, they sent a first-round pick to the Raiders for Cooper in the hopes of kick starting a struggling passing game.
The move clearly worked, as Cooper managed 725 yards and six touchdowns in just nine games with the Cowboys, helping spark them to a playoff appearance. The only concern with the trade was that Cooper entered 2019 on the final year of his rookie contract, prompting a year of speculation about his future pay day.
For all the scrutiny, though, Cooper's contract talks never got far. Asked about it during the 2019 offseason and leading up to the season, he repeated that he was content to play on the final year of his rookie deal and let his agents work out the rest.
Even asked about it on March 6, Cooper didn't seem overly concerned about what what the next few weeks held.
Perhaps he was aware what was to come – which is something few others could say. Because it looked for all the world that the Cowboys would lose Amari Cooper, until they didn't.