Brandin Cooks

This Date In Transactions History: 2014 NFL Draft

The first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft took place seven years ago today. While there was plenty of hype heading into the first day of the draft, surely no one expected the first round to produce so many accomplished players. Among the 32 individuals who heard their name called on May 8, 2014, 17 of those players eventually earned Pro Bowl nods. That’s not shabby.

From a transactions standpoint, there were five trades completed on that Thursday evening, with the Browns and Vikings starring in a handful of the deals. While there were whispers that the first-overall pick could get traded from Houston, the Texans ultimately kept the selection and drafted Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1.

The first trade of the evening was between the Browns and Bills. Cleveland wanted to move back to select a cornerback, so they sent No. 4 to Buffalo for No. 9, a future first, and a future fourth. The Bills ended up selecting wideout Sammy Watkins. As the first round continued to progress, the Browns apparently didn’t feel comfortable staying at No. 9. So, they packaged that selection and a future fifth-round pick to the Vikings for the No. 8 pick, and they proceeded to select cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Vikings selected linebacker Anthony Barr with their new selection.

The Saints later got into the action, acquiring the No. 20 pick from the Cardinals to select receiver Brandin Cooks. New Orleans sent Arizona No. 27 and No. 91, with the Cards selecting safety Deone Bucannon with that first-round selection.

The Browns made another trade later in the night, this time in pursuit of a quarterback. Cleveland traded No. 26 and No. 83 to Philly in exchange for No.22…and the Browns ultimately selected quarterback Johnny Manziel. Really, the writing was on the wall with that selection; the team had previously drafted two other QB busts (Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn) at that same spot in the draft.

The last trade of the evening once again featured the Vikings. Minnesota acquired the No. 32 pick from the Seahawks for picks No. 40 and No. 108. The Vikings used their new selection on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

It was surely an entertaining evening, with Cleveland serving as the star of the show. However, fast forward to today, and Browns fans are surely still shaking their head at how everything unfolded.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Rams trading Brandin Cooks to the Texans. The deal netted the Rams a second-round pick in exchange for the wide receiver and a future fourth-round choice. For Cooks, it was familiar territory — this was the third trade of his career.

[RELATED: Patriots Trade Cooks To Rams] 

Cooks, who was still only 26 at the time, was well-traveled at this point. Two years prior, the Patriots sent him to L.A. (along with a fourth-rounder) for a first-round choice and a sixth-rounder. And, in 2017, the Saints traded Cooks to the Patriots for a first- and third-round pick. It’s not unusual for players on the NFL fringe to cycle through teams, but Cooks had the rare distinction of being simultaneously desirable and very much tradable.

In 2018, his first year with the Rams, Cooks managed a career-high 1,204 receiving yards. Things were going well for all parties in L.A. — Cooks helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl and he had a contract to match his performance, a pricey five-year, $81MM extension with $50.5MM locked in. Then, in 2019, Cooks capped his year with just 635 yards. The most troubling part was that he suffered yet another concussion, which sidelined him for two games.

Cooks’ talent has never been in question, but his health history was another story. The Rams were now in a difficult spot, with millions and millions of dollars committed to Cooks through 2023. The deal left them with $21.8MM in dead money and less draft capital than they gave up just a couple years prior. The Texans got Cooks and the rest of his contract — an $8MM base salary in 2020, followed by $12MM, $13MM, and $14MM through 2023.

The Rams went on to turn that pick into Van Jefferson. The wide receiver out of Florida was used sparingly in the regular season, catching 19 balls for 220 yards and one touchdown. All in all, he was targeted just 31 times with 118 special teams appearances. On the plus side, he flashed in the playoffs with six grabs for 46 yards and one TD vs. the Packers. Aaron Rodgers & Co. came out on top, but Jefferson gave a glimpse of what could be in store.

Cooks went on to turn 81 receptions into 1,150 yards and six touchdowns for the Texans. In an otherwise tumultuous year, he was a bright spot. Now, they’ll count on him and Randall Cobb to keep the chains moving with Will Fuller out of the picture. If Cooks stays concussion-free, the trade will go down as a clear win for the Texans, even as their quarterback situation remains murky.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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

When Brandin Cooks was traded to the Patriots in 2017, there was hope that the wideout would stick around New England as one of Tom Brady‘s top targets. About 13 months later, Cooks tenure with the team had come to an end. On this date in 2018, the Patriots traded the wide receiver to the Rams.

Cooks was plenty productive during his lone season in New England, with the wideout leading the air attack (alongside Rob Gronkowski) following Julian Edelman‘s season-ending injury. The receiver finished the regular season having hauled in 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, and hee continued producing in the postseason, catching another 19 receptions for 292 yards.

That performance apparently wasn’t enough, as the Patriots sent him out on April 3, 2018. Perhaps the team was wary of Cooks’ impending free agency following the 2018 campaign, or perhaps they thought Brady and Bill Belichick‘s clout would land them a comparable (and/or cheaper) receiver via free agency. Either way, New England ultimately sent Cooks and a fourth-rounder to the Rams in exchange for a first-rounder (a pick that eventually turned into lineman Isaiah Wynn) and a sixth-rounder. The Rams subsequently signed the receiver to a pricey five-year, $81MM extension (including $50.5MM guaranteed).

Even though Cooks didn’t last all that long is Los Angeles, it’s hard to be too critical of the Rams. Cooks had a 1,200-yard season during his first year with the Rams, but he fell off in 2019, compiling only 635 yards from scrimmage in 14 games. Following the season, the Rams paired Cooks with a fourth-rounder and sent him to the Texans for a second-rounder (which ultimately turned into receiver Van Jefferson).

Similarly, it’s hard to be too critical of the Patriots; after all, Wynn is a fine consolation. However, the Patriots’ motivation for the trade has never really been explained. While the financial reasons were obvious, it was assumed that the organization would subsequently replace Cooks spot in the lineup. The team was also especially shallow at wideout after Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins.

While New England would be connected to a number of receivers throughout that 2018 campaign, the team never did anything to significantly improve their receiver corps. That 2018 squad finished without a 1,000-yard receiver, with running back James White leading the squad in receptions. Per usual, that didn’t end up mattering all that much; the Patriots still won the Super Bowl that season after beating (you guessed it) the Rams. While the Patriots selected receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round of the 2019 draft, they never really added another veteran receiver like Brady desired, an issue that was exacerbated after Gronkowski’s sudden retirement. That 2019 campaign would ultimately be Brady’s final season in New England.

Is there any takeaway from this trade? Maybe, but I’ll probably end up pulling something with this stretch. Brady was clearly dissatisfied with his weapons during his final seasons in New England. At the time of this trade three years ago, there were already whispers of tension within the Patriots organization. We can only assume that the quarterback wasn’t happy about the trade made on April 3, 2018, and it could have been one of the many reasons (or at least a contributing factor) that ultimately led Brady to walk away from the organization.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Restructure Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks Contracts

The Texans have restructured Laremy Tunsil‘s top-market tackle contract, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. This will create $10.1MM in cap space for the rebuilding team.

Tunsil’s 2021 base salary will drop to $990K, with the funds being transferred to a $15.1MM signing bonus, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The highly paid left tackle’s deal still runs through the 2023 season.

Despite being in clear rebuilding mode, with Deshaun Watson‘s murky status with the team making the stage of that rebuild somewhat uncertain, the Texans have been active in free agency and on the trade market. They traded for Shaq Lawson and Marcus Cannon and signed the likes of Phillip Lindsay, Tyrod Taylor, Jordan Jenkins, Desmond King and others. Tunsil’s restructure helped; so did a recent Brandin Cooks move.

The Texans’ Cooks restructure created $6MM in cap space, with ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop noting the deal does adjust the duration of Cooks’ contract. Cooks’ five-year, $80MM Rams extension ran through the 2023 season. His recent restructure voided one of those years, putting the 27-year-old wideout under contract through 2022.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.