Brandin Cooks

Extra Points: Texans, Bills, Haskins, Bengals

Brandin Cooks has been traded three times during his seven-year career, and the Texans wideout is hoping he isn’t included in any more deals.

“[A]s far as a team thinking they could trade me for draft capital, I would caution them to think twice, because quite frankly, I’m not going to accept any more trades,” Cooks told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. “And so, for me, if you want me off your team, you’ve just got to let me walk and choose my destination.”

While Cooks isn’t anxious to uproot his family, he also wants to stay in Houston so he can continue receiving passes from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“I would love to continue to grow with Deshaun and have that commitment, however that looks,” Cooks said. “I don’t get into that. I’ll leave that to my agent and the team, but playing with a guy like that — who wouldn’t want to play with a quarterback like Deshaun?”

Cooks still has three years remaining on his contract, and he’ll have a manageable $12MM cap hit in 2021. However, he doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on the deal, adding a bit of uncertainty to his future. For what it’s worth, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the organization has yet to talk contract with the wideout, but “it’s a conversation expected to take place in the offseason” once the team officially hires their GM and head coach.

Some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Speaking of, we learned earlier today that the Texans were set to hire Patriots executive Nick Caserio as their new GM, and it apparently took a giant offer to get him to Houston. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Houston gave Caserio a six-year contract that will make him one of the three-highest paid general managers in the NFL. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the deal is worth “at least” $6MM annually.
  • The Bills are scheduled to audition quarterback Chad Kelly, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). There’s an obvious connection here, as the 26-year-old is the nephew of legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. Yates suggests that the audition could result in a “possible reserve/future” deal. The final pick of the 2017 draft, the younger Kelly has spent time with the Broncos and Colts during his career, getting into a single game.
  • After going unclaimed on waivers last week, former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins and agent David Mulugheta mutually agreed to part ways. The former first-rounded has since found new representation, as ESPN’s Jenna Laine reports (via Twitter) that Haskins has hired Goal Line Football.
  • Following a 2020 season where the organization finished with only four wins, the Bengals have moved on from three assistants, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby (via Twitter). Jim Turner, Nick Eason, and Gerald Chatman will not return in 2021. However, Baby notes that the Bengals defense showed flashes this past season, meaning Eason and Chatman could end up landing new gigs relatively quickly.

COVID-19 Latest: Browns, Texans, Panthers

The Browns have closed their facility and delayed their flight to New Jersey because of a positive COVID-19 test. They are performing contract tracing ahead of their scheduled noon CT Sunday game against the Jets. While the Browns placed Jedrick Wills on their reserve/COVID-19 list, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the rookie left tackle did not test positive for the coronavirus. He and practice squad wideout Ryan Switzer are close contacts. However, Wills is expected to be pulled off the Browns’ virus list in order to start Sunday, Cabot adds. Cleveland indeed activated Wills off its reserve/COVID list but placed linebacker B.J. Goodson on it ahead of Sunday’s game. Goodson tested positive, Cabot reports. The Browns are planning to depart Cleveland at some point tonight, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s COVID-19 front:

  • Deshaun Watson‘s restaurant opening has caused an issue for the Texans. Watson and other Houston players were photographed maskless at the recent indoor event, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Watson received a $7.5K fine. The Texans levied fines against some of his teammates as well, with ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop noting Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks and Tytus Howard were among those at the event.
  • Whitney Mercilus now resides on the Texans’ reserve/COVID-19 list, and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reports he tested positive for the virus (Twitter link). This is Mercilus’ second time on the COVID list; he landed there in November as a close contact of then-COVID-positive linebacker Jacob Martin. This will end Mercilus’ season — his ninth with the Texans. Thanks to his December 2019 extension, Mercilus is signed through the 2023 season.
  • The Panthersdustup with COVID earlier this month produced a series of fines. The team handed out fines of at least $10K to players who broke virus protocols during the team’s bye week earlier this month, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Wideouts D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel and Shaq Thompson, Derrick Brown and Greg Little were among those placed on the COVID list.
  • After the Broncos were forced to use practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback earlier this season, the NFL tweaked its protocol to help teams in the event similar trouble emerges. Players already receiving COVID testing will be permitted to make their debuts for new teams without having to take virus tests six days apart, Pelissero tweets. This would allow for a team to sign a player off another team’s practice squad late in the week and use him in a game in an emergency scenario.
  • Washington fined Dwayne Haskins $40K for breaking COVID protocols for the second time this season but did not suspend him.

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

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

This is breaking news. Please refresh for updates.

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.