MARCH 20: Upon acquiring the oft-traded wideout, the Cowboys restructured his deal. They moved $8MM of Cooks’ $12MM 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Cooks’ cap number will drop to $6MM in 2023, per Archer. It had resided at $12.4MM. Two void years are now attached to the 10th-year receiver’s deal, Archer adds (on Twitter). Cooks’ 2024 base salary is now $8MM — down from $13MM.
MARCH 19: Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been traded once again. The Texans have agreed to send the 29-year-old to the Cowboys, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Schefter’s ESPN colleague, Jeremy Fowler, first reported that the two sides were working on a deal, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that Dallas is giving up a 2023 fifth-round choice (No. 161) and a 2024 sixth-rounder in the swap (Twitter links).
Cooks is under contract through 2024, and he is due a fully-guaranteed $18MM base salary in 2023. That number — along with the Texans’ ask of a second-round pick — became an obstacle in trade talks involving Cooks at last year’s trade deadline, as interested clubs wanted Houston to pay down a significant portion of Cooks’ salary. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, the Texans will pay $6MM of Cooks’ $18MM salary to facilitate the deal (Twitter link).
Cooks, a first-round pick of the Saints in 2014, was traded to the Patriots in March 2017, to the Rams in April 2018, and to the Texans in April 2020. In six of his nine professional seasons, the Oregon State product has topped 1,000 receiving yards, and his career 13.7 yards-per-reception rate is indicative of his status as a vertical threat. Over his first two seasons with the Texans, Cooks averaged roughly 85 catches and 1,100 yards per year.
However, things began to go south in 2022. Clearly frustrated by the Texans’ lack of competitiveness during his tenure in Houston, Cooks publicly expressed his frustration that he was not dealt to a winning club at the deadline, and he stepped away from the Texans for a week, missing the team’s Week 9 contest against the Eagles. At the time, he also made reference to organizational changes that upset him — which may have included the dismissal of former EVP Jack Easterby — and he said, “I don’t know everything that goes through [GM Nick Caserio’s] head.”
Even though Cooks remained on the Texans through the end of the 2022 campaign, it was reported in January that Houston was expected to accommodate his standing trade request this offseason. And the Cowboys, who made a push for Cooks at the deadline in an effort to supplement a WR corps that was clearly missing Amari Cooper — who was traded himself in March 2022 — finally got their man. ESPN’s Ed Werder says multiple teams were in pursuit of Cooks and appeared close to acquiring him, but Dallas was Cooks’ preferred destination (Twitter link).
Cooks, who has 58 receptions of 25+ yards downfield since he entered the league in 2014 — second only to Tyreek Hill during that span, as Werder tweets — should serve as a quality complement to CeeDee Lamb in a potentially explosive offense in Dallas. Although it appears that the team is parting ways with tight end Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys have 2022 fourth-rounder Jake Ferguson on the roster and could further supplement the position in a TE-rich draft. Lamb, Cooks, and Michael Gallup form a quality WR trio, and franchise-tagged Tony Pollard is a terrific weapon in the backfield.
The Texans, meanwhile, gain additional draft capital to aid in their rebuilding efforts in exchange for a player who wanted out. Houston — which coincidentally signed former Cowboy Noah Brown a few days ago — presently houses Robert Woods, Nico Collins, and 2022 second-rounder John Metchie III atop its WR depth chart.