Cooper's $20 million salary will become fully guaranteed if he is still on the roster on March 20. The Cowboys could clear $16 million in cap space by cutting or trading the star wideout before the deadline. The uncertainty has left Cooper's future in Dallas up in the air.
Speaking Monday from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones added to the vagueness surrounding Cooper when asked directly if the wideout would be on the roster this season.
"It's too early for me to address that yet," Jones said, via Jori Epstein of USA Today. "We're continuing to have conversations. A lot of things affect that. ... There are some moving parts to that that we'll have to continue to massage as we move forward."
Cooper and CeeDee Lamb currently sit as the Cowboys' top two receivers under contract, with much of the corps headed toward free agency. Dallas must decide if it'll ride Cooper's big contract at least one more season or cut bait and try to fill the void elsewhere.
Cooper is coming off a down season in which he caught 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. When Dallas signed Cooper to his big five-year, $100 million contract in 2020, it built a potential out beginning in 2022 with no more guaranteed money. The question now is will the Cowboys use that escape hatch.
"I want Zeke on my team," Jones said. "He's a damn good running back, and I think he's going to help us win this year. Obviously, his contract, his money is guaranteed. He's going to be here, no question. We're fortunate to have him."
The Cowboys are currently over the projected salary cap as we head toward the new league year. They could help balance the books by jettisoning Cooper, but that would leave another big hole to fill on offense.