Disgruntled players. It’s hard to gripe when you are getting paid millions and millions of dollars to play football, but nothing spells worse for a player than feeling wronged. Cooks came to Houston to win and what he got in return was a calamitous franchise folding in on itself to the point of becoming more churned than a tub of gelatinous butter.
Cooks has performed both valiantly and disappointingly. Once the Houston Texans failed to secure a deal at the trade deadline, he removed himself from the team and was stripped of the captainship. He essentially checked out of this season and earned an estimated $18.5M in doing so.
He stands to do so again next season; his two year contract that extends into 2024 and will give him another $18.5M.
Now, Cooks has expressed his disinterest to be with the team. His line about not wanting to be a part of the rebuild struck a chord and sent a signal to the fans that they should not expect #13 to be in Liberty White next season. It will be up to Nick Caserio this offseason to find a team willing to pay an exorbitant amount for a 29 year old wide receiver. He won’t be worth the infamous second round pick anymore; his performance on the field doesn’t warrant it anymore.
Even so, there will be plenty of teams looking to add a talented receiver to the roster.
1. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are an enigma. Their top running back this season was a quarterback who only played 12 games. Their top receiver was a tight end who only played 15 games. They did not have a single receiver catch over 500 yards this season, which in today’s NFL is astonishing. They enter the offseason with almost $50M in salary cap and are going to be big spenders. The playoffs will reveal the teams’ lack of elite receiving talent and force the fanbase to demand a trade for an equitable receiver. The main concern is the Ravens’ lack of draft picks. I doubt they’ll be too overly interested in giving up either their first or third round picks for a 29-year old receiver.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots have a similar resume as the Ravens; a lot of money and a distinct need at receiver. Jakobi Meyers has really come into his own as a receiver. He continually averages over 10 yards per reception and began to find the end zone this year. However, the Pats are without any other viable options, and that includes at tight end. Brandin Cooks would fit in well in New England’s quick throwing and play action scheme. They have the eight most salary cap and enough draft capital to make a deal worthwhile.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Adam Thielen is 32 years old and has hit a wall as a receiver. He has had three straight years of -4 TDs (he went from 14 to 10 to 6 this year) and lost a significant amount of snaps to KJ Osborn. However, he has a fairly difficult buyout for the Vikings in 2022; he’d garner $16M in dead cap if they release him this season, which if the Vikings were to take on Cooks’ contract, would be a hefty blow to the team. If the Vikings want to continue supporting their star in Justin Jefferson, they need to reinvest in the position this offseason.
4. New York Giants
Talk about a team who needs a leader in the WR locker room. Daniel Jones has 17 passing TDs to nine different players; not one with over four touchdowns. Losing Wan’Dale Robinson for the season didn’t help, but outside of Darius Slayton they don’t have any quality options. They traded away former first round pick Kadarius Toney in October for a third and a sixth round pick, which could be a great package to turn around and take on Cooks. New York fans will be clamoring to build upon their success this season and they’ll be compelled to find a missing piece along the offense they have built to make a run at the NFC East title next season.
5. Dallas Cowboys
CeeDee Lamb is a special talent. And honestly so is Michael Gallup, but the injuries and lack of playing time have lowered his ceiling. The Cowboys offense is lethal with two great running backs and Dak has several red zone targets to choose from. After their Week 9 bye, they didn't score less than 27 points outside of a Week 18 throw away game. However, they don’t have a complimentary piece that can hold the offense together when Lamb is double covered, injured, or disappeared from a game. They have draft picks in every round, but maybe not the draft capital yet to make a move unless they restructure Dak or Zeke’s contracts. Cooks and Lamb do have similar route trees and they may not be the most complimentary pair of receivers, but it would be an electric duo to pair with Dak’s offense.