2020 NFL free agency: Amari Cooper shuns bigger offer from Redskins to remain with Cowboys

There are rivalries, and then there are the Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins. To know the history of the two clubs is to know the latter did all it could to keep the former out of the NFL, but to no avail. One extorted collegiate fight song later, the Cowboys were added as an expansion team and the Redskins have since been chasing their level of success. In 2020, wide receiver Amari Cooper became a microcosm of that pursuit, and it didn’t end well for Washington.

On the first day of legal tampering in the NFL, Cooper agreed to terms on a five-year, $100 million deal with $60 million in guarantees — a source confirmed to CBS Sports — that keeps him in Dallas through the 2024 season. That matters more to the Redskins than simply having to defend him for the next half-decade. It turns out the Ron Rivera era in Redskins free agency began with an attempt to woo Cooper away from North Texas, per multiple reports, but ended with heartbreak when the four-time Pro Bowler turned down more money from owner Dan Snyder to make good on his promise of wanting to be with the Cowboys “for life.”

How much more was he offered by the Redskins? Well, the deal reportedly notched around the $110 million mark, on a deal that would’ve “put him right there with [Atlanta Falcons receiver] Julio Jones” — per Ed Werder of ESPN. Jones currently leads the WR market with a deal averaging $22 million per year, and Cooper agreed to a $20 million per year deal in Dallas. 

He’ll also get the added benefit of escaping state taxes, which in and of itself made the $110 million offer from the Redskins less of a difference. 

Talks between the Cowboys and Cooper picked up at the 2020 NFL combine following months of no conversation, and went into hyperdrive once the new collective bargaining agreement was voted in. Unable to land an agreement with Dak Prescott, the team was forced to use the exclusive franchise tag on their two-time Pro Bowl quarterback to prevent him from hitting the open market, but that meant they had to secure Cooper immediately to prevent that very exposure from occurring with their No. 1 wideout. 

A separate source tells CBS Sports the final $100 million figure from the Cowboys wasn’t the one they went into Monday morning holding in their hand — instead upping their previous offer slightly to appease Cooper and to stave off the Redskins. And with that, the Cowboys have their franchise wide receiver for the foreseeable future, while enjoying the added pleasure of having slammed the door shut on their bitter rival. 

Cooper got what he wanted. The Cowboys got what they wanted.

The Redskins got a reminder they’re still chasing their enemy.

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