Brandin Cooks is one of the most talented young wide receivers in the league, but his role in the Saints’ dynamic offense has diminished a bit this year. He is on pace to receive 30 fewer targets than 2015, and he was not targeted at all in last week’s victory over the Rams. He felt compelled to voice some frustration earlier this week, saying, “closed mouths don’t get fed.”
And yet, the Saints offense continues to thrive, leading some to wonder if the New Orleans system is the best one for Cooks. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the Saints are expected to explore trading Cooks this offseason prior to the opening of free agency, and if that happens, Cooks would of course garner significant interest. ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms the report, and adds that league sources believe a Cooks trade was brewing earlier this season, a deal that would have sent the former first-rounder to the Patriots in exchange for Jamie Collins.
The Saints, of course, traded Jimmy Graham and his highly lucrative contract a few seasons ago, and although Cooks is still playing under his rookie deal, he is eligible for a long-term extension at the end of the 2016 campaign. Plus, he is a deep threat who is not being used that way, and it appears as though Willie Snead and Michael Thomas better fit what New Orleans does on offense.
Head coach Sean Payton, however, took exception to the trade rumors, retweeting a reader who suggested that Rapoport was blindly throwing darts and did not do sufficient research to substantiate his report (link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.