How Riley Cooper deal impacts Julian Edelman

How Riley Cooper deal impacts Julian Edelman
February 27, 2014, 10:30 am
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Riley Cooper isn’t hitting the free agent market. The Eagles wide receiver – a middle-of-the-pack talent – signed a deal worth a reported five years and $25 million less than two weeks prior to the start of free agency.
 
Cooper had 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.
 
Whether or not the Patriots would have had interest in Cooper is now a moot point. But it is informative.
 
For instance – although I maintain guys who can operate downfield and outside the numbers with consistent effectiveness are more rare and valuable than guys who are inside receivers – Cooper becomes a market comp for Julian Edelman.
 
As his agents will point out in negotiations with the Patriots and elsewhere, Edelman caught more than twice as many passes as Cooper. Although Edelman, a pending free agent himself, had a far lower yards per catch and fewer touchdowns than Cooper, he was a bigger part of the Patriots passing offense and figures to continue in that vein for at least a couple more years if retained.
 
The five years and $28 million Danny Amendola got from the Patriots last year and the 5-25 numbers Cooper just got are indicators that Edelman has to look at making at least $5M per year on his next deal.
 
What the Patriots would likely counter with regarding Cooper is, “Sorry, we don’t allocate our wide receiver money like the Eagles do.”
 
DeSean Jackson is already in year three of a five-year, $48 million deal (and whining he’s underpaid), now Cooper is a high-end guy. And Cooper may be no better than the Eagles No. 3 receiver behind him, Jeremy Maclin. Maclin, a slot receiver, is coming off a torn ACL and is also a free agent. The Eagles’ intention is to re-sign him.
 
The Patriots have about $9.2 million in 2014 cap space being gobbled up by Amendola, Matt Slater (a very part-time WR), Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and T.J. Moe. Relative to other teams, the Patriots have a modest amount of money committed to wideouts.
 
How this affects Edelman will be interesting to observe in the coming weeks.