Brandin Cooks

Poll: Grading The Texans’ Side Of The Brandin Cooks Trade

Once again, wide receiver Brandin Cooks is on the move. Last week, the Rams shipped Cooks the Texans, marking the third time he’s been traded since entering the league in 2014. It’s one of the most curious cases in NFL history – Cooks has four 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, yet he’s been passed around at an unprecedented pace. As Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) notes, running back Eric Dickerson is the only player on record to have been traded more than Cooks. The longtime Rams running back was dealt four times over the course of his career, though two of those trades came in his twilight seasons. Still only 26, Cooks has time to tie – and perhaps beat – the bizarre record.

The Texans hope that won’t be the case. After trading DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in a stunning blockbuster, they hope that Cooks will do his part to fill the void and stay for a while. Many, including ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell, are skeptical. The Texans lost a bonafide superstar in Hopkins in exchange for a package headlined by running back David Johnson and a 2020 second-round pick. To land Cooks (and a 2022 fourth-round pick), they sacrificed a lesser 2020 second-rounder. Putting picks and contractual matters aside, they effectively swapped one of the game’s best receivers for two players with major medical red flags. For Cooks, there’s major concern over his concussion history.

There are arguments to be made for the Texans’ end of the deal. Cooks has age on his side and an impressive resume of his own. The Texans, in theory, could have used the No. 57 pick on one of this year’s ultra-promising wide receivers, but Cooks can be expected to outperform the rookies in the near-term. In short, the Texans unquestionably needed to replace D-Hop after sending him to Arizona. That won’t stop people from scrutinizing that head-scratching trade, but rocket ships don’t have rear views, and nothing short of a thoroughly failed Johnson physical is going to bring Hopkins back to Houston.

It’s also worth noting that the Rams are eating much of the up-front cost of Cooks’ contract, including his $4MM bonus for 2020. While the Texans are slated to pay Cooks $47MM over the next four seasons, only $8MM of that sum is guaranteed.

How do you grade the trade from the Texans’ perspective? Cast your vote below (link for app users) and tell us more about your report card in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Brandin Cooks Trade

The Texans trade for Brandin Cooks is a “flailing response to failure,” Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com writes. In his view, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has a poor assessment of draft pick value – instead of taking on Cooks’ contract and injury woes, the Texans could have simply drafted a wide receiver with the second round pick they forfeited.

On the flipside, Barnwell has heard some theorize that the 2020 season will be especially challenging for rookies, who won’t have the benefit of a typical OTA schedule. Veterans like Cooks are already accustomed to the pace of the game and often pick and choose when it comes to OTA participation anyway. Barnwell doesn’t buy it, because he doesn’t believe the Texans are built to win this year. In 2019, they placed 19th in DVOA, and their divisional round loss to the Chiefs remains fresh in his mind.

Ultimately, if the Texans wanted to win in 2020, their best bet would have been to hold on to DeAndre Hopkins, Barnwell argues. Instead, they’ve effectively swapped Hopkins for Cooks and running back David Johnson.

More on the blockbuster:

  • Barnwell feels that the trade made more sense from the Rams perspective, but he’s not letting L.A. off of the hook either. Cooks’ extension, he writes, was a massive mistake by GM Les Snead. And, even though they were able to bail out, they were still stuck paying him a $4MM roster bonus since the deal happened after 3/15. This year, they’ll wear a $21.8MM dead money hit for Cooks; between that and the Gurley deal, they’re stuck with $33MM in dead money this year.
  • Cooks’ history with the Patriots undoubtedly played a role in the deal. In addition to O’Brien, he also has a strong relationship with Texans exec Jack Easterby, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter) notes. “Jack Easterby, you think about him and smile because he brings so much positivity within our locker room and our building,” Cooks said earlier this year. “All you can do is respect that and want to follow that lead.”
  • A fun fact from Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link): Since August 31, the Texans have traded away 12 players/picks and acquired 15 players/picks. He compiled the full list, which includes Hopkins, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, two first-round picks, and two second-round picks in the exit column. Meanwhile, they’ve added Cooks, Johnson, tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and eleven more assets that may or may not justify the cost.

Rams Trade Brandin Cooks To Texans

The Texans have agreed to send a second-round pick to the Rams in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a future fourth-round choice, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With that, the Texans have found their replacement for DeAndre Hopkins while holding on to the second-round pick they acquired from the Cardinals. 

Cooks, interestingly enough, was shipped from the Patriots to the Rams roughly two years ago today. The well-traveled 26-year-old still has tons of potential, especially now that he’s in Deshaun Watson‘s offense. The biggest question mark, perhaps, is Cooks’ health. He has a history of concussions and one more bad blow could put his career in jeopardy.

Cooks, a 2014 first-round pick, emerged as a top-end wide receiver in 2015 when he racked up 84 catches, 1,138 yards, and nine scores. In 2017, the Saints shipped Cooks and a fourth-rounder to the Patriots for first- and third-round choices. After one year, the thrifty Pats sent him to the Rams, allowing L.A. to give him his payday. Now, he’ll continue on his five-year, $80MM deal with the Texans.

Even with Hopkins out of the picture, the Texans’ offense still projects to be a potent one. With Watson under center, their starting lineup will feature Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills as their top receivers. Meanwhile, David Johnson and Duke Johnson will be in the backfield, with blocking specialist Darren Fells up front.

In exchange for Cooks, the Rams will receive the No. 57 overall pick in this month’s draft. Given the depth of this year’s crop, it might not be hard for them to fill the void at wide receiver. They’ll also gain some extra breathing room by unloading Cooks’ contract.

The Texans will take on the rest of his multi-year pact, which calls for an $8MM base salary in 2020. After that, he’s set to earn escalating salaries of $12MM, $13MM, and $14MM until 2023.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Patriots Trade Brandin Cooks To Rams

With all of the action we’ve seen this offseason, it’s easy to forget that April blockbusters are also relatively common. In fact, we had a significant trade go down two years ago today. On April 4th, 2018, the Rams acquired wideout Brandin Cooks and a fourth-rounder from the Patriots for a first-rounder and sixth-rounder.

Cooks had actually been acquired by New England only 13 months before the Rams/Pats deal. While the former first-rounder had a solid season as one of Tom Brady‘s main targets, he didn’t match his production with the Saints from 2015 or 2016. Cooks ultimately finished the 2017 regular season with 65 receptions, 1,082 yards, and seven scores. While the receiver had a standout performance during that year’s AFC Championship, he was limited to only a single catch in the Super Bowl before exiting with a concussion.

With Cooks set to hit free agency following the 2018 season, the Pats decided to ship the receiver to Los Angeles. The Rams immediately inked the wideout to a five-year, $81MM extension, and that looked to be a good decision at first. Despite playing alongside Robert Woods, Todd Gurley, and Cooper Kupp, Cooks finished that year with 80 receptions, five touchdowns, and a career-high 1,204 receiving yards. He was productive during the Rams’ run to the Super Bowl, finishing with 292 receiving yards in three games.

However, the wheels somewhat fell off in 2019. Cooks battled several ailments, including a concussion that knocked him out of the lineup for several weeks. When all was said and done, Cooks put up some of his lowest numbers since his rookie campaign, finishing with 42 receptions for 583 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.

With $12MM guaranteed in 2020 and his contract lasting through the 2023 season, there were rumblings that the Rams could look to trade the receiver this offseason. However, following the organization’s decision to move on from Gurley, it sounds like Cooks isn’t on the block.

On New England’s side, the team used that first-rounder to select offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. The Georgia product sat out his entire rookie campaign, and he landed on IR following Week 2 of the 2019 season. However, he managed to return in Week 12, and he proceeded to start each of the Patriots’ remaining regular season and postseason games. In true New England fashion, they traded the sixth-rounder for a pair of seventh-rounders.

Both Cooks and (to a lesser extent) Wynn have been productive for their teams so far. However, their future performance will go a long way in determining who won this specific trade. For the time being, we’re comfortable grading both squads as “incomplete.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brandin Cooks Not On Trade Block?

The Rams have made some notable changes this offseason, with Todd Gurley‘s release being the biggest move from a team with some major questions atop its payroll. Brandin Cooks represents one of the big contracts on Los Angeles’ cap sheet, and a report earlier this month indicated the team was shopping him.

That no longer appears to be the case. The Rams do not have Cooks on the trade block, Peter King of NBC Sports notes. Considering Cooks’ concussion-marred 2020 and $12MM in guarantees due this season, this makes sense. The Rams would not be expected to collect full value for the twice-traded wideout, who is signed through 2023.

Cooks’ 1,000-yard streak stopped at four. In a down year for the Rams’ offense, the 26-year-old target only produced 582 yards in 14 games. Cutting Cooks would not be a realistic move for the Rams, who already ate considerable dead money from the Gurley release. Were Cooks to be shopped, King lists the Eagles, Packers, Raiders or Redskins as potential suitors.

Los Angeles still has Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Woods, however, has outplayed his five-year, $34MM contract and Kupp is going into a contract year. Neither is in Cooks’ NFL tax bracket, but both outplayed him last season. Each surpassed 1,100 receiving yards in 2019. The former Saints and Patriots wideout, however, totaled a career-high 1,204 receiving yards in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Shopping Brandin Cooks

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Brandin Cooks could be on the move. Again. The Rams have made the wide receiver available via trade, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (on Twitter). Meanwhile, they’re also shopping star running back Todd Gurley.

[RELATED: Rams Shopping Todd Gurley]

The Rams are looking to shed Cooks’ salary while recouping some draft capital. Despite his past accomplishments, it could be tough for them to find the right deal. Last year, Cooks had just 42 grabs for 583 yards and two touchdowns. Contrasted with his four straight seasons of 65/1,082/5, his trade value ain’t what it used to be.

If a deal comes together, it’ll likely happen in the next 24 hours. On Friday, Cooks is slated to lock in a guaranteed $5MM roster bonus. All in all, his contract takes him through 2023 with an upcoming cap hit of $16.8MM. A trade would lessen the blow, but still leave the Rams with a dead money charge.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Rams, Clowney, Brady

Rams wideout Brandin Cooks is set to return from the fifth known concussion of his six-year career. While the veteran has continually been sidelined by the dangerous head injury, he told reporters that his latest concussion didn’t make him consider retirement.

“Absolutely not,” Cooks told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “When it happened, that never went through my mind. Even now, it’s not going through my mind.”

Cooks suffered a pair of concussions in a 25-day span, and he traveled to Pittsburgh twice to meet with the director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Following those meetings, Cooks felt comfortable returning to the field.

“One of the biggest things that I learned, concussions is a case-by-case thing,” said Cooks. “Mine was very unique, and just thankful once again to be able to go and get answers.”

Cooks won’t be the only Rams receiver returning to the lineup. Thiry writes that Robert Woods returned to practice this week after missing last week’s contest due to “personal issues.” The 6-4 Rams will take on the Ravens on Monday night.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a game-time decision after missing three practices this week due to a hip injury, tweets ESPN’s Brady Henderson. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that Clowney didn’t travel with the team to Philadelphia as he gets his hip checked out. Clowney suffered the injury during Monday’s win over the 49ers. In his first season with Seattle, the 26-year-old has compiled 25 tackles, three sacks, and three forced fumbles.
  • The Eagles will be dealing with injuries of their own, as Lane Johnson is set to miss the matchup against Seattle. The veteran right tackle suffered a head injury during last weekend’s loss to the Patriots, and he remains in the concussion protocol. Rookie first-rounder Andre Dillard will slide into the starting lineup.
  • No surprise here, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play vs. the Cowboys tomorrow. The 42-year-old was listed as questionable on the injury report thanks to an elbow injury. Brady hasn’t missed a game due to injury since the 2008 campaign.
  • Some good news on the Giants injury front: the team announced that wideout Sterling Shepard, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and offensive lineman Nate Solder have all cleared concussion protocol and will play Sunday against the Bears. Jenkins and Solder both left the Giants’ Week 10 loss to the Jets, while Shepard hasn’t seen the field since Week 5.

Brandin Cooks Expected To Play Week 12

The Rams will be getting a jolt to their playoff push this week, as head coach Sean McVay said wide receiver Brandin Cooks is expected to play against the Ravens next Monday (via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com on Twitter). Cooks has been sidelined since suffering a concussion during LA’s Week 8 victory over Cincinnati.

The concussion was especially troubling given that it was Cooks’ second of the season and his fourth in less than two years. The Rams visited the Steelers in Week 10, and in advance of that matchup, Cooks traveled to Pittsburgh multiple times to meet with doctors. It’s clearly a situation to monitor moving forward, but Cooks recently indicated that he is not considering stepping away from the game.

Cooks is in his second season with the Rams, and he signed a five-year, $80MM contract with the club in July 2018. Los Angeles could not feasibly get out from under the contract until after the 2020 season at the earliest, but assuming Cooks can stay healthy, there is no reason for the team to cut ties. Cooks has topped 1,000 yards in each of the past four years, and his career 14.3 yards-per-catch mark is emblematic of his big-play ability. And while correlation does not equal causation, and while quarterback Jared Goff has been mediocre most of the season, Goff has looked especially bad with Cooks out of the lineup over the last two games.

The status of Cooks’ fellow starting wideout, Robert Woods, remains uncertain. Woods missed Sunday’s win over the Bears due to undisclosed personal reasons, and McVay indicated that Woods is still dealing with that personal matter. So while Cooks will be a major help against Baltimore’s tough secondary, Goff may not have his full arsenal at his disposal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Cooks, Gordon

The 49ers (and certain fantasy owners) may well have to make other plans at tight end this week. George Kittle drew a doubtful designation for San Francisco’s pivotal Week 10 game against Seattle. The All-Pro candidate is battling knee and ankle injuries, and although he played eight games with torn rib cartilage last season, Kittle is likelier than not to miss the nationally televised game. Levine Toilolo and second-year UDFA Ross Dwelley reside as the other tight ends on the 49ers’ roster.

Veteran Garrett Celek could be activated from the PUP list, however. Celek has been dealing with a back injury for months but returned to practice this week, per ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (on Twitter). While the 49ers are not against activating Celek for Monday, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team would prefer he go through multiple practice weeks before debuting this season. Dwelley and Toilolo have combined to catch nine passes for 38 yards this season.

Here is the more from San Francisco and the latest from the NFC West:

  • In more promising 49ers injury news, the 49ers may get both of their tackles back this week. With Joe Staley expected to return this week, Mike McGlinchey may join him. The second-year right tackle worked in three limited practices this week. He has been out since Week 5 due to arthroscopic knee surgery. Staley also participated in three limited practices this week. Despite both of San Francisco’s tackles being out for much of the season, the 49ers’ run game ranks second in the NFL.
  • The team’s Chase McLaughlin acquisition will likely lead to game work. Robbie Gould joins Kittle in being given a doubtful status. Gould, who has not missed a game since his 49ers tenure began in 2017, is dealing with a quad injury.
  • In advance of the Rams‘ road assignment against the Steelers, Brandin Cooks has spent time in Pittsburgh because of concussion trouble. Cooks has made multiple trips to Pittsburgh to meet with doctors over the past two weeks, Omar Ruiz of USA Today tweets. The Rams wide receiver remains in concussion protocol and is out for Sunday’s game. Cooks has suffered two concussions this season, one in 2018 and one in Super Bowl LII. The 26-year-old receiver is not considering retirement and still wants to return this season (Instagram link).
  • Josh Gordon‘s Seahawks debut is likely set for Monday night. Despite being on the Patriots’ IR list to start last week, Gordon was not listed on the Seahawks’ injury report. Pete Carroll said there’s a “good chance” the recent waiver pickup plays against the 49ers, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The former All-Pro played in six Patriots games, catching 20 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has had some brutal luck in recent years. After landing a big contract from San Francisco last offseason, he tore an ACL in the preseason. He never fully recovered from the issue, and will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a separate knee injury. The guaranteed money in his deal is up, which means it might be tough for him to stick. McKinnon is due $6.5MM in 2020, and even though the organization thinks very highly of him as a player and person, “there is no way the 49ers can pay him that money,” writes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Maiocco hypothesizes that the 49ers “will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price,” and that “if he declines, he will not be back.” Shockingly considering he signed a four-year, $30MM deal last offseason, it seems like there’s a good chance McKinnon never plays a snap for San Francisco. They still have a very deep backfield with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr., so it’s obvious why they wouldn’t want to give McKinnon $6.5MM as he enters his age 28 season coming off two lost years.

Here’s more from the NFC West, as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • In the same piece, Maiocco writes about another member of the 49ers who might not be long for the team. C.J. Beathard lost the competition to be the team’s backup quarterback to Nick Mullens, but they’ve kept him on the roster. There was talk that San Francisco would try to trade one of their young backups this offseason, but Maiocco writes that they’ve tried and “there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.” Maiocco speculates that the team might eventually pull the plug and release Beathard outright if injuries pile up and they need the roster spot. Beathard, a 2017 third-round pick from Iowa, has started five games each of the past two seasons and has looked competent at times.
  • The Cardinals are still looking for their first win, and they just got dealt a tough injury blow. Promising second-year receiver Christian Kirk will miss their Week 5 game against the Bengals, and it sounds like he could be out even longer. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t rule out Kirk for the team’s Week 6 game against the Cardinals, but he did say the team wouldn’t rush him back, and that “it’s a long season,” per Darren Urban of the team’s official site (Twitter link). It’s too early to tell for sure, but Kingsbury using that type of language suggests they’re going to be pretty cautious. The 47th overall pick of last year’s draft, Kirk is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Rams dropped their second straight game on Thursday to fall to 3-2, and now a key player is banged up. Receiver Brandin Cooks was placed in the concussion protocol following the team’s loss to Seattle, head coach Sean McVay said Friday. McVay said Cooks was asymptomatic as of yesterday, but it’s still concerning given Cooks’ history with concussions. Thankfully for the Rams he has a few extra days to get cleared since they played a Thursday night game, but this is still a situation worth monitoring. Los Angeles relies on Cooks to stretch defenses vertically, and him missing anytime is the last thing a suddenly struggling Rams team needs.