|Move Along Now|
How bad was this guy? Well, to be fair, not the worst WR on the 2015 team; that was Miles Austin. But in terms of starting WRs in the NFL, Cooper was one of the worst. Intermittent hands, not able to get open against press coverage, in there ostensibly for his blocking -- as if that's any reason to start a freaking WR -- and at age 28 and a fifth round pick's pedigree, seriously unlikely to get any better. I suppose he might catch on somewhere in the NFL, because being someone's WR5 after being someone else's WR2 doesn't seem that hard, but if he never plays another down in the NFL, no one will notice.
Cooper's real meaning in the NFL, of course, was the fact that he was still in it after a terrible social media moment... and the fact that ex-coach/GM/disaster Chip "Nero" Kelly kept him around, but couldn't pay Jeremy Maclin or abide DeSean Jackson, pretty much put all of the fuel that anyone ever needed to every conspiracy theory about Kelly's racism. For the record, I don't think Kelly was racist. Arrogant, idiotic, and utterly incapable of dealing with anyone who wasn't a yes man, sure. That just happened to run into more black players than white players, but Evan Mathis getting cut for no good reason, then becoming a Super Bowl winner in Denver while the Eagles started turnstiles at guard, kills off the racism angle, really.
But that overstates the point. What Cooper was, more than anything, was a hot month, perfectly timed, with the general organizational philosophy of trying to lock down emerging talent at below-market rates. If Cooper had been a capable WR2 in the fashion of his sole decent year, the club would have been fine with him being an asshat. But he wasn't that, and Kelly's insistence on continuing to give him snaps, even with college binkie Josh Huff on the bench behind him, and first rounder Nelson Agholor having a whiff of a rookie year, was his stubbornness writ large.
It would have been incredibly easy for the team, and ex-coach, to get rid of Cooper for a very long time. That they didn't, until the minimum number of days after Kelly was excised, is all kinds of telling. It means that they were gutless while Nero was here, and more than happy to hand him yard after yard of rope to hang himself. While still selling tickets at full price, of course. There's a reason why owner Jeffrey Lurie, while generally lauded locally for kicking Kelly to the curb, isn't exactly trusted or beloved.
So what's next? Well, rumor has it that the club is really trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube by getting back wayward QB Nick Foles from the Rams. Maybe this is just gamesmanship with QB Sam Bradford to try to save a few million bucks on his next contract, especially because of Bradford's frankly terrifying injury history... and maybe it's all rumor mill nonsense. But the fact that it can't be just laughed out of the room, tells you just how beyond the pale this front office is.
Giving Kelly the keys was a mistake. So will be trying to undo everything he did, as if time treats football players like normal human beings.
But getting rid of Riley Freaking Cooper?
That's never been a bad idea.
Just a very overdue one.