What is Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper's worth for a new deal?

Spears irate over suggestion Dak take less money (2:06)

Marcus Spears can't believe Bart Scott would suggest that Dak Prescott take less money from the Cowboys. (2:06)

FRISCO, Texas -- Amari Cooper will be in Orlando, Florida, this week, getting ready to play in the Pro Bowl.

Based on the numbers he put up for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 -- 79 catches, 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns -- he should be hobnobbing with the NFC's best, even as an injury replacement.

But Cooper's season will not be remembered for his fourth Pro Bowl appearance in five seasons. It will be remembered for how he finished the 2019 season. It will be remembered for his not being on the field during the biggest play of the biggest game of the Cowboys' season against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. It will be remembered for him getting shut out against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

And it brings up this question as Cooper looks to hit unrestricted free agency in March: What is he worth?

Before the 2019 season started, the thought of Cooper, 25, making $18 million per season behind Julio Jones' $22 million a season with the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Thomas' $19.25 million a season with the New Orleans Saints appeared to be the right price. Maybe even $18.5 million.

With how Cooper started the season, it looked like the price tag might go even higher. Through nine games, he had 53 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns, putting him on pace for a season that would likely land him in a neighborhood occupied only by Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant in franchise history.

And those stats include the one-catch, 3-yard Week 6 game against the New York Jets in which he went down with a quadriceps injury.

But, something changed after Week 9.

Some thought the heel, ankle, quad and knee injuries he suffered early in the season had caught up to him, but he said he felt better in the season's second half than the first. Perhaps the attention of opposing defenses got to him, which might have played a part in Michael Gallup's 1,107-yard season. Some inside the Cowboys' organization believed there was some sort of issue with wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal that led to Cooper's drop in productivity.

But Cooper blamed his issues on a lack of focus.

"Sometimes when you are having success, you tend to lose focus on the little things that you need to do to keep playing well," Cooper said. "For example, if you catch a lot of balls early on, it starts to feel like that's just what you do. ... When it becomes routine, you stop doing those things."

Whatever it was, Cooper's production in the final seven games has to give the Cowboys at least some pause.

His 26 receptions in Weeks 11-17 ranked 53rd in the NFL, and his 341 yards ranked 43rd in that time frame.

No. 1 receivers can have lapses, but Cooper's finish to the season looked like some of the indifferent times he had with the Oakland Raiders before the trade with the Cowboys.

Does the way he finished the season fall into the $15 million-a-year neighborhood?

"The way I would asses [my season] is, I wouldn't say I hit my potential this season even though it's a career high in yards and in touchdowns," Cooper said the day after the Cowboys' season ended. "I thought I could've accomplished a lot more, but I didn't, so it's a good reason to be able to go back to the drawing board and work my butt off this offseason, so that ... in a way can be a good thing. Now I know that coming into next year it's something I can actually top, because I know for a fact down the stretch this season I didn't perform at a level in which I know I can perform."

A couple of times during the season, Cooper said he wanted to be with the Cowboys long term.

"I love it here. I love everything about this area, this team, the place I live," Cooper said. "It's just I don't feel like I have anything to complain about in this situation."

Cooper sees room for growth for himself as well as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

"I think he and I are a very important part of this team and very important pieces in terms of wins and losses," Cooper said. "I think we can really take over games together, and if we do that consistently, then it'll be really hard to stop us and be really hard for us to lose."

Cooper and Prescott will be tied contractually, too.

In an ideal scenario, the Cowboys will avoid chewing up all of their available salary-cap space by signing both to long-term deals before the NFL's free-agent market opens in March. Maybe slightly less ideal would be signing Prescott to a multiyear deal and using the franchise tag on Cooper, which could be worth about $18.5 million in 2020.

In a less-than ideal scenario, the Cowboys could use the franchise tag on Prescott, which could pay him either $27 million or $33 million depending on the designation, and the transition tag on Cooper, which figures to be around $16 million -- if there is not an extension of the collective bargaining agreement. If there is a new CBA, teams can use only one tag.

In using either tag on Cooper, the Cowboys would buy themselves another 16 games to see what they are getting in the veteran receiver.

Back in early November, they thought they knew.