Deshaun Watson needs some solid receivers to really be the best he can be. Or does he? Right now, according to NFL Network, Watson is tied with Tom Brady as the highest-rated quarterback in all the land. That’s without Will Fuller V...or DeAndre Hopkins. Too bad Houston can’t trade David Johnson for D-Hop...
Anyway, let’s bust this sucker open with our battle red masthead nutcracker.
What Should the Houston Texans Do With Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks?
Jam Route Joe:
I like both receivers, and even though Cooks has been all over the place this year, I still think he’s one of the most underrated receivers in the league. But, I’d honestly prefer keeping Will Fuller since he and Watson clearly excel together, which means he’ll either need to get franchise tagged or given a fairly healthy extension. In order to do that without destroying the Texans’ cap space even more so for the next few years, we would need to dump Brandin Cooks.
As much as I’d love to keep both since two deep threats is better than one, I feel we can only afford to pay one. Since we can certainly still salvage Cooks by flipping him to a team for a 3rd or 4th rounder (maybe even a 2nd rounder to a team desperate for a speedster), Fuller is the one to keep. We can either find a replacement to Cooks in the draft or maybe even give Coutee significantly more playing time next year. Coutee has some very clear weaknesses, but he’s been playing well enough to justify giving him a shot against whatever rookie or journeyman we’d sign to take the #2 spot next year.
If this season has proven nothing else, it is that Watson can throw to anyone and make them look good. Would have been better to keep Hopkins, especially in the red zone, but the remnants of that horse are dried specks on a pre-school art project. That being said, if you can only keep one of them, I would go with Fuller. While he has not proven he can play a complete season, he was relatively healthy before the substance-related suspension (not sure if there is a causation relationship there, but more to follow). Watson has greater history with him, and prior to the suspension, Fuller was showing he could be a WR1. Granted, we don’t know what the market will look like for Fuller or for any other free agent. If you can get him on a reasonable deal, go for it. Otherwise, you may have to let him walk and hope to pick up at least a 3rd round compensatory pick.
As for Cooks, unless you can renegotiate his contract to make it a bit more cap friendly, I would, if GM, shop him around for multiple lower round picks. Since I don’t see another BO’B out there, the Texans won’t get a 2nd for him, but perhaps a 3rd, or maybe a 5th and a 6th.At least some draft ammo to trade up, etc. While it is possible Cooks remains, and he could still be a decent weapon with Watson at the helm, I would take Fuller over Cooks.
Overall, there is a greater chance that we lose both. Even not counting the future GM, I don’t see how we can keep both with the cap hit the team will take, especially since there are so many other problems on the roster that need resources. That situation will bear watching in the off-season, and will probably have more excitement and drama then the last couple of games left in 2020.
I was all for making a run to keep Fuller, but there’s just too many coincidences for me, with him having his best and most healthy season while using whatever it was he was using. It’s also no coincidence that this happened in a contract year. So a huge contract for Fuller is a big no for me. Now, if he is willing to do a team-friendly deal I could get on board depending on the deal. If the Texans make some coherent offseason moves to put the cap in a place that can absorb a franchise tag for Fuller? I’d also be open to that.
For Cooks, I feel like he’s gotten to be a pretty good piece with Deshaun. He’s already under contract, and the team needs receivers so unless I have a huge Cooks blind spot that someone can fill me in on, I’m fine with him continuing his contract here.
Y’all know how much I love the old sayings and this one applies to Will Fuller: “Your best ability is your availability.” Will Fuller should demand top tier money this off-season and it makes no sense to give that sort of contract to a guy who can’t contribute for 16+ games when you have Houston’s current cap conundrum.
If I were Emperor of the Universe, after I fired Jack Easterby, I’d re-sign Will Fuller V to an attractive contract, then deal him to another team for some offensive or defensive line help. Then, I’d turn around and go after a durable wide receiver, like say Allen Robinson II. Giving Deshaun Watson a suitable, reliable replacement for DeAndre Hopkins should be high on the to-do list for the roster remake. Watson can make it work with anyone, but to get him to the next level, he needs a wideout he can build long-lasting chemistry with going forward.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Will Fuller when he’s on the field - and one of my fondest football memories was being at NRG the first time he ever set foot on the property the day after Houston drafted him - but the injuries were bad enough, the PED suspension is just the straw that broke this camel’s back.
When it comes to Brandin Cooks, I’d love to see him stick around, but at a lower cap number. He’s never managed to stick with a team, and I’d love to see Houston be the team he finally gets to call home. However, the 7th year veteran is set to make $12 mil next season and he’s simply not worth that on a team with so much work to do roster-wise. If Houston could re-do his deal in a manner that makes sense, loaded with incentives based on 1st downs, touchdowns, playoff wins and a big payout should Houston win the Super Bowl and Cooks could be happy with his role as a teammate, then I’d make that happen. But, simply handing him 6.85% of the projected $175 million 2021 salary cap to be WR2 doesn’t make fiscal sense. However, if Houston is able to turn Will Fuller into a starting lineman, then partnering Cooks with someone like Allen Robinson suddenly makes a lot of sense. Just not at $12 mil.
Titan Touter Matt Weston:
Will Fuller is an enigma. After years of being great when healthy, he was finally healthy, and now that he was healthy, he took the same stuff Bradley Roby and A.J. Bouye took, and who knows who else took it, but just didn’t have to pee at the same time. This was the best season of his career. He was one of the most efficient and effective receivers in the league. He easily would have had 1,200 receiving yards this year. Teams aren’t bad because they pay great players. Fuller is. He’s a complete wide receiver. The deep routes open up the short stuff. It’s just the extenuating circumstances surrounding him. I don’t think he’s a true number one in the sense he can’t carry an entire passing offense on his own, but he’s ridiculous when he plays, and for that reason alone, Houston should tag him for 2021.
I’m not a big Brandin Cooks fan. The more than a deep threat idea wasn’t true. He wasn’t even a deep threat this year. He won three true vertical routes this year. Two were against Chase Claybrooks. Another was last week against William Jackson III on a double move. Most of his receptions came on deep crossers where he ran through the zone coverage horizontally. Because he’s teeny tiny, and his injury history, you don’t want him attacking the short middle, or involved in the screen game. He’s due $12 million next year. I would look to trade him for a third or a fourth, recoup cap space, find another outside wide receiver in free agency, and spread the savings to a different part of the roster.
My guess is Houston keeps both players though, and points to their passing game success as a reason for keeping the gang together.
There you have it - when the new general manager comes along, we’ve made his/her life easier.. Maybe.
What do you think? Put your Emperor of the Universe hat on and let us know.