A Dallas Cowboys source has confirmed our man Mike Fisher's 7:30 a.m. Wednesday report on 105.3 The Fan regarding the signing of former first-round guard Jonathan Cooper, who will be added to the active roster for the playoffs.
It's a done deal. So ... now what?
Cooper was a blue-chip guy coming out of college. He was the seventh overall pick in 2013 by Arizona and was eventually traded to the Patriots in the big Chandler Jones deal. But injuries, mostly, have kept Cooper from becoming an NFL stalwart. The Pats released him in October. He was picked up by the Browns and was a part-time starter there -- three of the five games he played -- before being released.
The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Cooper was a Cowboys favorite in his draft year and you can see why above. His power and athleticism was special at North Carolina ... but in the NFL, he's started just about half of the time when he's been eligible.
Fish reports that the acquisition of Cooper is not directly related to any Cowboys' disappointment regarding the progress of La'el Collins; the plan remains to start his 21-day clock from injured reserve and to have him on the playoff roster.
So Cooper isn't about Collins. Where does his spot come from? Room can be made for Cooper via either the release of recent practice-squad call-up Ryan Seymour or via an NFL decision to suspend Randy Gregory, a decision that should come down soon.
Cooper is really about next year. ... if he can be retained. This deal is reportedly for the playoffs only. But Dallas gets the inside track on him for the future. Collins will be healthy. Dallas will want to give him the left guard spot presently being manned so well by Ron Leary, who will get a big contract and leave free agency. Dallas can't pay Leary to be a backup, but does need to pay the other guard, Zack Martin, who is due a long-term extension this summer.
So there's a sensible plan. A cheap roll of the dice that Cooper, still just 26, can become close to the player he was once projected to be ... or at on a level with what Leary was when he was the swing guard ... or at least better than Joe Looney, who has held down that roll for most of this season. (And what if Cooper can play center better than Looney can?) Maybe they don't keep him or maybe they do. We think it's also worth noting that while Dallas continues to insist that Collins is a guard and not a tackle, and that Chaz Green is the right-tackle replacement of Doug Free in the future ... Cooper playing up to his potential creates options here that can be explored if his progress ever takes us that far.