Amari Cooper‘s $22 million cap number is the highest of any receiver in the NFL in 2021. The Cowboys are paying him like he’s one of the top receivers in the league, up there with DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones and ahead of Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill and others.
Cooper has made four Pro Bowls, totaled more than 1,000 yards in five of six seasons and averaged 75 catches for 1,035 yards and six touchdowns. He has not led the league in receiving or made All-Pro.
So while Cooper has a belief he is the best receiver in the league, he understands he has yet to prove it.
“There’s a difference between thinking you’re the best and actually going out there and proving it,” Cooper said, via the team website. “Do I think I’m the best? Yes. Have I proven it? I wouldn’t say I have.”
The Cowboys traded for Cooper in 2018 and signed him to a $100 million deal before last season, but they used a first-round choice on CeeDee Lamb in 2020. So it’s not even a given that Cooper is the best receiver on his own team.
He certainly is not as accomplished as Jones, Hopkins, Thomas, Hill and Davante Adams, among others.
“There are guys who have actually put up some great numbers; they’ve taken advantage of their opportunities and stuff like that,” Cooper said. “I’m just still trying to take advantage of my opportunities and trying to put up those numbers to lead the league in yards, touchdowns, all across the board really.”
It is a big season for Cooper. Despite being under contract through 2024, Cooper has no guaranteed money left on his contract after this season. The Cowboys would save $16 million on their 2022 cap by releasing Cooper after this season, with $6 million in dead money.