Cowboys Made Late Push For Brandin Cooks

Although the Texans engaged in discussions with teams about what would have been the fourth trade of Brandin Cooks‘ career, the ninth-year veteran remains on the rebuilding team. This may be a point of contention now, but with the trade deadline passed, Cooks’ options are limited.

Pre-deadline reports connected Cooks to several teams — the Rams, Giants, Vikings, Packers and Chiefs — but Ed Werder of notes the Cowboys were in on the ninth-year pass catcher as well. Dallas and Houston discussed Cooks leading right up to the deadline, but the previously reported stumbling blocks derailed an intra-Texas swap (Twitter link).

Cooks’ $18MM 2023 salary — an amount fully guaranteed via the April 2022 extension he signed — was an issue the Cowboys could not move past, per Werder, who adds the Texas teams could not agree on draft compensation as well.

The Texans were reported to be seeking a second-round pick for Cooks — the same price they sought in the spring — but the nomadic wideout was never considered likely to fetch such compensation considering the terms of his new contract (two years, $39MM) and the slight production dip this season. So Cooks (32 receptions, 354 yards, no TDs in 2022) remains with the Texans, though he was not at their Tuesday practice due to a personal reason.

Cooks, 29, sent out a tweet appearing to indicate frustration with his employer. With the trade deadline passed, the Texans have limited options with their top receiver. It cannot yet be assumed the Cooks situation will devolve an Odell Beckham Jr.-level place, but the star pass catcher’s path out of Cleveland could be a blueprint for Cooks. Then again, Cooks just signed a through-2024 extension to stay with the Texans this spring. It is not like the Texans were ever poised to compete in 2022, either, so it will be interesting to hear what has changed regarding Cooks’ situation since April.

The Cowboys have CeeDee Lamb locked in as their No. 1 wide receiver, but the team misses Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup, whom Dallas re-signed on a five-year deal this offseason, has only 135 receiving yards in five games since returning from his ACL tear. Sixth-year wideout Noah Brown (339 yards) is Dallas’ second-leading pass catcher. This crew could stabilize with Dak Prescott back at the controls, but the Cowboys were on the lookout for receiving help in the days leading up to the deadline.

The Cowboys are no stranger to in-season receiver trades, having sent a first-rounder for Cooper in 2018 and having dealt a first-rounder and change for Roy Williams in 2008. Unlike the Williams swap, the Cooper trade produced immediate dividends and helped Dallas to the playoffs that year. Two years after Cooper’s five-year, $100MM extension, however, the Cowboys decided he was not worth the cost and shipped him to the Browns for a low-level return. Considering where the receiver market went in the coming months, the Cooper pick-swap trade did not age well for the Cowboys.

Dallas balking at Cooks’ high salary is not unique; other teams did the same as the deadline neared. A report indicated Cooks was willing to give up some guaranteed cash to facilitate a trade back to the Rams, but would he follow Beckham’s lead in doing so to be released? Like OBJ, Cooks has already played several seasons on lucrative contracts. This season will bump him past $90MM in career earnings. Barring a release, however, Cooks must finish this season with the Texans. The team could reassess this situation in 2023, if a trade — almost certainly for far less value compared to Cooks’ first three trades, which collectively involved two first-rounders and a second from 2017-20 — is to go down.

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