Brandin Cooks

AFC East Notes: Cooks, Dolphins, McCown

Brandin Cooks has made the successful transition from Drew Brees‘ top deep threat to Tom Brady‘s, not that it was in too much doubt this could happen. As a result, Cooks would like to extend his Patriots stay far into the future. The fourth-year wide receiver said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, he would “absolutely” like to play the rest of his career in New England. Multiple obvious caveats come with this statement, though. The first being Cooks’ contract runs through the 2018 season, via the fifth-year option the Pats picked up. After that, it will probably take a high-end WR1 contract to keep Cooks in the Boston area. And the Patriots have not exactly been the kind of team that doles those out. Secondly, Brady’s age naturally makes it a year-to-year proposition the Patriots have a dominant passing game. But for now, Cooks likes where he’s stationed. He’s on pace for another 1,100-plus-yard season, with the 786 he’s at actually putting him on track for a career-high figure.

Here’s more from the AFC East.

  • The Dolphins might have to again turn to Matt Moore on Sunday. Jay Cutler remains in concussion protocol. But the team hopes its starter is cleared Friday or Saturday, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting (on Twitter) Cutler is on track to face the Patriots. Cutler hasn’t been able to practice much this week, but Adam Gase said he would feel comfortable putting the 34-year-old passer out there because he’s a veteran, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes. Moore has played well in relief of Cutler twice this season but bombed in a 40-0 loss to the Ravens as a starter. Miami’s backup did fare better as a starter in 2016, however.
  • On the Cutler subject, Salguero writes no one in the Dolphins organization pushed back hard enough against Gase’s wishes to bring in the polarizing passer. And while Cutler may not be on Miami’s roster next season, his $10MM contract cost the Dolphins some potential cap-carryover money. Thanks to a roster that has two quarterbacks making eight-figure salaries, the Dolphins have less than $1MM to carry over, and Salguero points out the team passing on Cutler would have made it possible to carry at least $7MM over into 2018.
  • In the expansive piece judging the Fins’ offseason moves, Salguero writes that Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas will likely be cut. And Mike Pouncey won’t be automatic to see a seventh Miami season. The Dolphins can save $7MM by cutting Pouncey, who says he’s playing with a damaged hip, in 2018.
  • Josh McCown has made more starts in 2017 than he has in all but two seasons. The Jets quarterback looks set to eclipse his previous single-season high (13 with the 20o4 Cardinals), keeping Christian Hackenberg off the field. But as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News observes, this productive age-38 season has cost the Jets long-term. McCown’s one-year contract might have been too good an investment since will have the Jets out of franchise-quarterback territory come draft time. Gang Green would pick 12th if the season ended today.

Brandin Cooks’ Discontent Led To Saints Trading WR

Brandin Cooks faced his former team today, in a Patriots rout in New Orleans, but some additional details emerged on why he spent time in the visitors’ locker room.

The Saints dealt the fourth-year wide receiver for a first-round pick because of Cooks’ issues with his role in New Orleans’ offense and his doubts about the team’s future, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

Cooks expressed doubt Drew Brees, who is now in his age-38 season, could continue to get him the ball deep, per Rapoport. And the Saints were skeptical of the 23-year-old’s status as a No. 1 wide receiver. Rapoport notes Cooks was going to want to be paid like a No. 1 receiver, and the Saints were not prepared to authorize that kind of contract for the deep threat despite his back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons.

A late-season meeting between Cooks and Sean Payton did little to clear the air, Rapoport reports, and the organization did not like what it perceived to be a self-over-team mindset from the talented pass-catcher. Payton told Cooks, who voiced frustration (the “closed mouths don’t get fed” comment) after going catchless in a 49-21 win over the Rams last November, he would see a target increase. Nevertheless, Cooks voicing his frustrations about his stat line following a blowout win rubbed some with the Saints the wrong way, per Rapoport.

And the wideout tied a season-high with seven receptions the following week. Despite Michael Thomas‘ emergence, Cooks saw at least eight targets in 10 games last season and at least six in 14 contests.

While Cooks was pro-Brees in terms of his relationship with the quarterback, the future Hall of Fame passer’s arm strength was not something the receiver felt he could address on any level, Rapoport adds. Cooks had discussions along these lines with Payton, OC Pete Carmichael, then-wideouts coach John Morton and GM Mickey Loomis.

Interestingly, the soon-to-be 24-year-old performer is now playing with a 40-year-old quarterback and for a team notoriously stingy regarding big contracts. Cooks caught two passes for 37 yards in New England’s win in New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Exercise Brandin Cooks’ Option

Not much of a surprise, but Brandin Cooks will be sticking around New England through at least the 2018 season. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the Patriots have picked up the wideout’s fifth-year option.

Brandin Cooks (vertical)Cooks is in line to make a very-affordable $1.56MM this offseason, but his fifth-year option is likely to be valued around $8.5MM. As our own Connor Byrne previously noted, the Patriots are likely to see what Cooks does in their offense before they hand him a lucrative extension. Either way, the 23-year-old should expect to make at least $10MM annually on his next contract.

The Patriots were left out of the fun on Thursday night after having dealt the 32nd pick (along with pick #103) to New Orleans for Cooks (and pick #118) earlier this offseason. The 23-year-old will provide Tom Brady with another talented target, joining a receiving corps that already features Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Over the past two seasons, Cooks has averaged 81 receptions for 1,155 yards and more than eight touchdowns.

There are still several 2013 first-rounders who are awaiting decisions on their fifth-year option, including Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and Bills receiver Sammy Watkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Eagles, Jenkins, Bills

Muhammad Wilkerson, who inked a monster extension with the Jets last year, appears to be extremely out of shape, according to multiple scouts who saw him at Temple’s Pro Day (via Manish Mehta of the Daily News). Wilkerson’s listed weight last season was 315 pounds and it’s unclear how heavy he is at the moment. The Jets effectively chose Wilkerson over fellow defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson last year by giving him the long-term deal and, so far, it’s not clear if Wilkerson will reward the Jets for their confidence in him. Last year Wilkerson had just 4.5 sacks, the lowest total since his rookie season. This year, he’s set to carry a $18MM cap number with a fully guaranteed $14.75MM base salary, so a trade is probably out of the question. Meanwhile, Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter) posted a picture of Wilkerson from just last week in which he appears to be in the same shape he was last year.

A bit more from the NFL’s East divisions:

  • Eagles GM Howie Roseman continues to shoot down rumors that he offered up Malcolm Jenkins in trade talks for Brandin Cooks. His latest denial is the firmest one to date (Twitter link via 97.5 The Fanatic). “The Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Jenkins thing kind of gets under my skin. We were never going to trade Malcolm Jenkins,” Roseman said.
  • Initially reported as a four-year deal, kicker Steven Hauschka‘s pact with the Bills is actually a three-year contract, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s worth $8.85MM, nearly half of which ($4MM) is guaranteed.
  • In case you missed it, Gang Green agreed to a deal with longtime Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne on Thursday.

East Notes: Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, Eagles

Contrary to previous reports, the Jets were “not close” to offering linebacker Dont’a Hightower $12MM annually, tweets Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. However, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter link) New York had an offer of $11MM per year, with $22MM in guarantees, on the table, but withdrew that proposal after Hightower left without signing. Hightower ultimately re-signed with New England for four years, $43.5MM, and $19MM guaranteed.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Although defensive tackle Dontari Poe visited with the Dolphins, Miami seems unlikely to sign him unless it’s at an extremely team-friendly rate, opines Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Given that Miami already has a high percentage of cap space tied up in fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the club probably won’t land Poe unless he’s willing to accept a deal in the one-year, $4MM range. Alternatively, the Fins could convince Poe to ink a two-year pact that contains a low cap charge for the 2017 campaign, per Salguero.
  • New Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks denies he requested to be traded away from the Saints, tweets Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune. According to published reports, Cooks is correct, as he never vocally expressed the need to leave New Orleans, at least to the media. Cooks did express frustration with his role in the Saints’ offense last year, saying “closed mouths don’t get fed,” but that’s far from asking to be traded.
  • Cornerback Marcus Cromartie visited with the has generated interest from the JetsEagles, and Seahawks according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, who notes the 49ers are also “keeping an eye” on the three-year pro. Cromartie, 26, hit the open market last week after San Francisco declined to offer him a restricted free agent tender. He’s appeared in 21 games during his three-year NFL tenure, mostly acting as a special teams player during that time. The Lions are also intrigued by Cromartie, and hosted him for a visit over the weekend.
  • Before releasing quarterback Chase Daniel earlier this week, the Eagles restructured his offset language in order to be able to recoup more money, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. While Caplan doesn’t detail how exactly Philadelphia restructured Daniels’ deal, the ESPN scribe does note Daniel will still be able to earn more than the $5MM that was fully guaranteed under his Eagles contract.

Titans’ Cooks Offer Included No. 5 Pick

One of the more interesting trade sagas in recent memory ended with Brandin Cooks going from the Saints to the Patriots, but the Titans entered the frey and made a strong proposal as well. Tennessee’s offer for the 23-year-old wide receiver featured the Titans and Saints swapping first-round picks (No. 5 for No. 11), with the Titans adding a third-round pick in the deal as well, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

The proposal that ended up getting it done was the Patriots’ first- and third-round selections for Cooks. Philadelphia lasted long into these talks as well, but the Eagles were believed to have been out before the Patriots ultimately eclipsed the Titans’ offer.

Titans GM Jon Robinson said today he not include the No. 18 overall pick in an offer for Cooks, per ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky (on Twitter). The No. 18 pick being involved would have almost certainly meant the Titans would have given up a first-round pick in this year’s draft without getting one back, like they would have if the Saints had accepted their proposal. Tennessee still holds picks Nos. 5 and 18 due to their deal with the Rams for Jared Goff last year.

Tennessee’s aggressive Cooks push looks like a sign the team will be in the market for a wideout with one of its top two picks. The Titans lost Kendall Wright in free agency but diminished the former first-round pick’s role over the past two seasons. Tajae Sharpe and Harry Douglas remain on the roster, but neither is close to Cooks’ class. Retaining their two first-rounders, the Titans figure to be a team to watch for players like Mike Williams, John Ross or Corey Davis in Round 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Included Jenkins In Cooks Trade Offer

Prior to the Patriots being the winner of the Brandin Cooks sweepstakes, the Eagles made an offer that included veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

However, the rest of the Eagles’ offer wasn’t quite sufficient enough for the Saints to send Cooks to Philadelphia. Philly offered a third- and a fourth-round pick to the Saints for Cooks, per Florio, who adds the Saints wanted Jenkins and a second-round selection. The Patriots landed Cooks for the No. 32 overall pick, along with a 2017 third-rounder.

Jenkins, of course, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Saints before signing with the Eagles in 2014. He made his first Pro Bowl for the Eagles a year later. Now entering his age-29 season, Jenkins is signed through the 2020 campaign after inking a second Eagles contract — for four years and $35MM — last year.

The Eagles attempted to trade for Cooks at the 2016 deadline and resurfaced with interest last week, joining the Titans and Patriots in pursuit of the coveted 23-year-old wide receiver. The team held Cooks in high regard dating back to the 2014 draft. Philly was reportedly eliminated from the running earlier than Tennessee, which made a standing offer for the fourth-year wideout that may have been better than the Eagles’ Jenkins-fronted package.

However, the Eagles revamped their 2017 receiving corps without making a trade. They signed both Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, and while neither is as young or cheap as Cooks, both figure to make a big impact on what was a depleted Philly wideout corps prior to this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Acquire Brandin Cooks

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick in 2017 from the Saints in exchange for first- and third-round picks this year, tweets Dianna Russini of ESPN. New England will receive the 118th selection, while Nos. 32 and 103 will go to New Orleans.Brandin Cooks (Vertical)

The Titans were also involved in the Cooks sweepstakes, but he’ll join the reigning Super Bowl champions instead. New England will now assume responsibility for the $781,599 bonus Cooks is due Monday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

As of Thursday, the Patriots were reportedly considering sending cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Saints in exchange for Cooks. It’s still possible Butler will end up in New Orleans in a separate trade, according to Schefter, while Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that Butler couldn’t be a part of this deal because the restricted free agent is without a contract at the moment (Twitter link).

Still only 23 years old, Cooks was eminently productive in New Orleans during the first three seasons of his career and will now team with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, among others, in a loaded group of targets for Pats quarterback Tom Brady. Cooks is coming off his second straight 16-game, 1,100-yard campaign. The 5-foot-10, 189-pounder also combined for 162 catches and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Cooks will come with a modest $1.56MM price tag in 2017, but after a fifth-year option season at approximately $8.5MM, it’s possible he’ll enter eight-figure-per-year territory on his next contract. Barring an extension before then, the Patriots will have an opportunity to see how Cooks fares in their offense before deciding on his long-term future. New Orleans, meanwhile, still has a pair of high-end receivers in Willie Snead and Michael Thomas, thereby rendering Cooks expendable in the club’s estimation. The likelihood is the Saints will look to strengthen their defense with their newly acquired first-rounder.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Titans Make Standing Offer For Brandin Cooks

The Titans have put their cards on the table. They have a standing offer out to the Saints for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Brandin Cooks Titans (vertical)

Tennessee has been working to land Cooks for the past week or so. The Eagles dropped out of the Cooks chase – and we can say that with certainty now that they’ve signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith – but the Patriots are still very much in pursuit. It’s not yet known what the Titans have offered to the Saints, but it may involve first-round compensation. The Titans own the No. 5 overall selection as well as the No. 18 overall pick. One scenario floated recently involved the Titans swapping their No. 5 pick for the Saints’ No. 11 pick.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are reportedly considering a trade that would involve cornerback Malcolm Butler going to New Orleans in exchange for the superstar wide receiver.

Photo courtesy of PFR on Instagram.

Eagles Out On Brandin Cooks; Pats, Titans In

The Saints are expected to trade Brandin Cooks by the end of the day, and the Patriots and Titans both remain in contention for the wide receiver, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Eagles aren’t mentioned in Rapoport’s report, and are presumably out on Cooks after signing Torrey Smith earlier today.Brandin Cooks (vertical)

The Patriots are thought to be mulling a trade of cornerback Malcolm Butler for Cooks, although the Saints may want even more. A package that includes a defensive contributor plus a draft pick is thought to be the asking price for Cooks. New England has also previously offered its first-round pick (No. 32) for Cooks, but the offer was reportedly rebuffed. At one point, the Titans were thought to be in the lead for Cooks, but it’s unclear exactly what they offered.

In 2016, Cooks caught 78 passes for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns. His yards-per-reception average of 15.0 was a career high and his 66.7% catch rate was a slight step up from his 2015 showing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.