The Dallas Cowboys are entering the 2022 season with some major upheaval at wide receiver, but they still have CeeDee Lamb.
After trading away Pro Bowler Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns earlier this offseason, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he believes Lamb to be an upgrade as the team's No. 1 receiver:
Jones told the Star-Telegram that CeeDee Lamb will be an upgrade over Cooper as a true No. 1 receiver in the Cowboys offense.
Jones said he wasn't trying to slight Cooper, whom the team traded in March in part because his production didn’t match his $20 million practice tag.
But Jones acknowledged Cooper had his issues and that Lamb has the makings of more a complete No. 1 receiver in “production, in the huddle and off the field.”
Of course, by most metrics, Lamb was already the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver last season. The former 17th overall pick posted more targets (120 to 104), reception (79 to 68) and receiving yards (1,102 to 865), though Cooper edged him in touchdowns (eight to six). Cooper was the higher-paid player, however, and carried the track record of long being a No. 1 receiver.
The Cowboys ended up deciding Cooper's five-year, $100 million contract wasn't worth it and offloaded the four-time Pro Bowler to Cleveland for the negligible return of a fifth-round pick and a swap of sixth-round picks.
Lamb now enters the 2022 season as the clear primary receiver in Dallas. In addition to Cooper being gone, Michael Gallup (third in 2021 targets among Cowboys wide receivers) is still recovering from a torn ACL sustained in Week 17, while Cedrick Wilson Jr. (fourth) has left in free agency for the Miami Dolphins.
As the Star-Telegram describes it, Lamb will play "the Jerry Rice role" as the flanker in the head coach Mike McCarthy's West Coast offense:
“This is a great opportunity for him personally,” McCarthy said. “I think just the way we’ve established the offense, particularly in the passing game, the ability for those guys to play different positions, to create matchups and make it harder on the defense to double you and those type of things — my point is, playing in the slot a lot last year and now playing the flanker position.
“And we understand his rise in Year 3 that he’s going to get a lot more attention from the defense. But he’s doing all of the little things that are needed to get him ready to be the No. 1 guy.”
That sounds like the makings of a monster season for a talented receiver.