Amari Cooper Traded to Cowboys, Eli Apple Headed to Saints in Pair of Trades Made by Raiders and Giants

By Michael Vesci
Oct. 23, 2018

The NFL Trade Deadline is usually the dullest of trade deadlines out of all four major North American sports. But with the deadline coming up on October 30th, the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants started off the week with a bang. Oakland traded former first-round pick wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday and the New York Giants traded former first-round pick cornerback Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints.

Sitting at 1-5, the Oakland Raiders clearly needed to shake up their roster as the offense has been pitiful all season long, ranking 15th in the league. The passing game is ranked 10th while the running game is ranked 25th, but the team is manufacturing just 18.3 points per game which is 28th overall. Once a highly touted receiver, Amari Cooper saw his numbers fall off the last two years and with the Raiders in flux, he became expendable from the team. In his first two seasons in the NFL, the Alabama alumni posted over 1,000 yards receiving and 11 total touchdown grabs. Last year, Cooper finished the season with just 680 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches. So far this year, the numbers have fallen off even more as the receiver has only 280 receiving yards and one touchdown. Now he is headed to the Cowboys in exchange for a first-round pick, the pick is now the third first-round pick Oakland will have in the 2019 NFL Draft after trading away Khalil Mack earlier this season.

Meanwhile, for the Dallas Cowboys, the theme of Jekyll and Hyde played itself out again this week with a loss to the Redskins. After losing Jason Witten to retirement and releasing Dez Bryant, Dallas has not looked any better on offense this season. One week they have a decent showing and then the next week it is the polar opposite which is why they are currently sitting at 3-4 on the year. Trading for a receiver like Cooper who has the potential to put up explosive numbers when he gets going is a move the Cowboys felt they needed to make to complement the offense. Dak Prescott needs weapons with injuries to players like Tavon Austin and Terrance Williams (who was also handed down a three-game suspension this past week) plaguing the wide receiver corps. At the moment, Amari Cooper is dealing with a concussion but returned to practice on Monday which is a good sign. Although weapons were needed on offense, trading away something valuable like a first-round pick makes the Cooper deal high risk, high reward for the Cowboys. We will have to see how it plays out over the rest of the 2018 season and beyond.

Less than 24 hours later another NFC East team was making a trade as the New York Giants traded former first-round pick cornerback Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints. The Giants received a fourth-round pick in 2019 and seventh-round pick in 2020 in return for the young cornerback which could beneficial to them in the future. Like Oakland, the Giants are sitting with just one win on the year at 1-6 following a three-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. Apple is just 23-years-old and struggled mightily last season, a year which culminated in him being suspended for arguing with a coach and included calling safety Landon Collins a "cancer." The move is a bit of a shock considering the young cornerback has 23 tackles and one forced fumble to start his third year in the league. At such a young age, the Giants seem to be in rebuild mode with an aging quarterback in Eli Manning. A guy like Apple would seem like a defensive player that the Giants could use while rebuilding given his young age and infancy in the league. However, New York figures to use the draft picks they received from the Saints for that exact reason over the next two drafts, to build for the future.

As for the Saints, they get help at a cornerback position which saw an injury to veteran corner Patrick Robinson last month who is currently on injured reserve. After a rough start to the season defensively, New Orleans is starting to come around on that side of the ball. Apple figures to help out that cause as he will likely line up opposite to another young corner in Marshon Lattimore and potentially replace third-year corner Ken Crawley. While defense has been a struggle for the Saints, they still sit at 5-1 on the season and atop the NFC South. This is mostly because they have a high-powered offense of Drew Brees at quarterback who boasts loads of talent in the backfield and with his receivers. Brees is 39-years-old and currently on a two-year deal which means his time in the NFL could be up soon. It is vital that the Saints continue to build up their young defense like they are doing at the moment. When Brees is gone, the Saints will still have so much talent on the offense and it will boil down to grooming another quarterback to steer the ship under center. While it may be a questionable move on the Giants' end, this is a move that could make a big difference for the Saints.

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