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Rams Trading WR B.Cooks to Texans

The Los Angeles Rams are trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The Rams are giving up Cooks and a future fourth-round pick in exchange for Houston's second-rounder this year. 

The Texans will be Cooks' fourth team in seven NFL seasons, as he moves from Drew Brees to Tom Brady to Jared Goff to Deshaun Watson. Life for an NFL wide receiver could be a lot worse. 

For the Texans, it might help to simplify things by combining this and the DeAndre Hopkins trade into one big deal, as done here by Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice:

Comments

24 comments, Last at 20 Apr 2020, 7:54am

1 I am unsure why the Rams did…

I am unsure why the Rams did this. Yes you gain a low second round pick, but you lose a fourth rounder + Brandon Cooks(a good receiver). So on net, you've lost two players and gained one and you are a team that is starved for picks to begin with. 

The rams moves to this point just make no sense in the aggregate. 

 

Conversely, by itself, a good deal for the Texans. Taken in aggregate...? not so much. 

2 I have the opposite take. …

I have the opposite take.  Houston went from correctly paying an unhappy stud to overpaying a good wr with more risks.

They also are stuck with David Johnson, whose contract I'd consider a net detriment.

For the Rams, they get out of a mediocre contract and get something good for it.  I think their team-building strategy has been terrible for the whole mcvay years, but this is a nice move

 

3 Agreed.  Houston took on the…

Agreed.  Houston took on the onerous contracts of players with considerable injury and ineffectiveness risk while sending out a blue chip player who presented neither risk and not gaining a ton of draft capital in return.  Houston's moves would've made sense if they forced the other teams to cover substantial amounts of Johnson's and Cooks' contracts.

The Rams strategy has been to get good quickly in order to generate buzz, season ticket sales, and luxury box reservations in LA. 2 playoff trips and 1 Super Bowl appearance later, I'd say mission accomplished.  Now that the team looks to have plateaued and many of those season tickets and luxury reservations are in the books, I don't have much of issue with the salary dumping.

5 In totality, the Texans…

In totality, the Texans moves have been abysmal.

 

Taken just in terms of this move alone in a vacuum, I like it. Yes Cooks is overpaid and that issue is magnified by the fact that they stupidly took on David Johnson's awful contract. But let's rewind. In a world where the Texans dont hurl a huge ton of draft equity to the Dolphins and dont fork over a hall of fame quality receiver for a terrible contract and a 2nd round pick, this move would actually be very good. A receiving core of Stills, Fuller, Hopkins, and Cook would be among the best in the NFL.

Instead, Cooks becomes an overpaid player trying to replace an awesome receiver on a team friendly contract. Viewed in totality, its awful I agree. 

8 That's the thing.  Houston…

That's the thing.  Houston totally misread the market.  There was no reason to do the Hopkins trade on day 1 of free agency.  That deal would have been there for at least a month.  Waiting would've allowed Houston to see how the RB and WR markets shaped up.  If they waited a bit, they could have absolutely gotten one of Gurley, Freeman, and Gordon on the open market.  And a trade for Cooks or a FA deal for someone like Sammy Watkins would have been there too.  I'm convinced that Houston's scouting/pro personnel/ and salary cap department is understaffed because their processes are just terrible.

13 I think it goes beyond…

I think it goes beyond misreading the market. Howie Roseman's comments make it clear the Texans valued David Johnson extremely highly. When you're that lost there's nothing that's going to help you much. If they hadn't traded Hopkins they might have sent a first for Johnson or some other lunatic thing.

16 I guess it's ok to value…

I guess it's ok to value Johnson highly.  However, it's not ok to do zero due diligence on the RB market.  Arizona should have been forced to eat a lot of money and/or attach a high draft pick in order to get rid of Johnson's contract.  Houston should be aware of this since Cleveland made them attach a 2nd rounder in order to take on Osweiler's contract back in 2017.

9 Hopkins (17th/31st in DYAR…

Hopkins (17th/31st in DYAR/DVOA last year, 2nd/10th in 2018) is set to earn $12.5M next year. Cooks (49th/46th, 10th/12th) is under contract for three years at $8M next season. We should probably assume Hopkins is going to sign an extension, let's say for $18M next year? Who is really the better value?

I still say Hopkins.

11 Cooks trade

Cooks is, when healthy, an outstanding WR. But "when healthy" is becoming a question, he's had several concussions and there can't help but be a cumulative effect. He's one big hit away from retirement. It's a damn shame, but there it is.
Rams also made a series of questionable decisions that have them up against it cap-wise. That's a big part of this, as is releasing Todd Gurley. 

Josh Reynolds is a good slot receiver, he's not as good as Cooks is (again, when healthy) but he's young and has played very little wear on his body. I expect they'll address depth at the position in the draft, or perhaps free agency. I keep reminding people that Danny Amendola is still out there. He'd be quality depth at slot, and depth is the big issue for the Rams at WR right now. 

And the Rams don't have a ton of draft capital right now. I'm happy with trades they made to get Cooks and Ramsey, but having no 1s is becoming a thing. At least they get a low 2 out of this one, and they should be able to get another corner or receiver or a good interior lineman there. 

 

(edit: let me add that when I said "Cooks is, when healthy, an outstanding receiver" that is not meant to imply better than Hopkins. He ain't THAT outstanding. I still can't explain what the hell the Texans are doing. Can anyone?) 

20 An inexperienced owner has…

In reply to by DaddoRam

An inexperienced owner has been hoodwinked into handing over total control over football matters to a mediocre head coach who is reasonable at evaluating players for his system but has absolutely no clue when it comes to resource management, long term strategy or asignation of value, and no interest in listening to anyone who might be able to explain those things to him.

6 Not often a former first…

Not often a former first round pick plays for four different teams by the time he's 27. When something like that does happen, you'd assume he's a bust who's bouncing around trying to hang around in the league. Brandin Cooks has had an odd career.

12 Cooks worth

I couldn't disagree more. When healthy, he was ABSOLUTELY worth a first rounder. He had a great 18 season and was a big part of getting the Rams to the Super Bowl. This was about health and the cap, not about Cooks' skill. He was in no way shape manner or form a "bust." 

 

15 Well, health/availability is…

In reply to by DaddoRam

Well, health/availability is about as important a skill as you can get.

Cooks lacks it, and is nearly in Jordan Reed territory on concussions.

17 I have a hard time valuing a…

In reply to by DaddoRam

I have a hard time valuing a player in the form of a draft pick. The draft pick is uncertain in what value it brings, but it also has the benefit of being cost controlled.

 

Cooks when healthy is a pretty good receiver, but I can probably name about 10 or more pass catchers I'd rather have than Cooks irrespective of his contract. Throw in the contract and its a bit dicier.

 

 

10 I was just thinking about…

I was just thinking about exactly that. He managed to land just about exactly on the line between the elite, game-changing receivers (like Deandre Hopkins *cough*) and the guys who are "merely" very good but don't quite move the needle by themselves. So there are always teams that see "elite-ish" and acquire him for a premium, only to find themselves a bit underwhelmed and willing to unload him onto the next team that sees "elite-ish" and offers premium value, and so on.

It's weird but I feel like he would actually be held in higher esteem in the public eye if he were a bit worse, allowing him to stay in one spot and build a statistical resume and personal rapport with a single fanbase.

19 I keep staring at that net…

I keep staring at that net trade breakdown, and maybe I'm crazy, but if it were just:

Hopkins for Cooks, moving up in the 2nd, a 4th swap, a future 4th, and the presumed cap savings relative to Hopkins' impending exorbitant payday (which could approach $10 mil/year difference)

well, that still wouldn't be a very good trade, but I could at least see the logic to it: get cap room and some marginal increase to draft capital, without downgrading your biggest strength toooo much (I think a healthy Cooks is around the 10th-15th best receiver in the game, although that "healthy" qualifier looms large; Hopkins is of course top-5 or so). They really do need to improve the roster if they're going to seriously compete with the Chiefs and Ravens next year, and that would at least give them some means to do so.

It's Johnson that makes it a disaster. They're essentially blowing the cap savings - their most significant acquisition - on a RB who almost certainly would've been available for cheap (after a presumed cut), because he is almost certainly toast. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

21 You talk about Hopkins'…

You talk about Hopkins' presumptive massive extension, but... he's under contract for three more years. Even at the end of that time, you can franchise him. He has virtually no leverage.

22 Brandon Cooks

As someone who watched every rams game that Cooks played, I can say with some surety that I can understand why teams think that Cooks is worth a first round pick, and why teams constantly trade him away for a first round pick. He's got amazing agility, and good top end speed. If all you wanted a receiver to do was to run 15 yard in or out routes all game long then he's your guy. At one point he seemed almost uncoverable that way, and I imagine that there are a good number of CB's in the league who could be outright told what route he's going to run, and still lack the agility and quickness to cover him.

The problems with Cooks are that he really doesn't have the best hands, he's so small that he needs to get very open to actually be open, and he is even worse at contested catches than his short stature would imply. That adds up to him being not really the downfield threat that he appears to be. Sure, he's not bad downfield by any means, he's just not the Randy Moss equivalent that a highlight reel might imply. On top of all that, he now has gotten six serious concussions, putting his future at risk, and causing him to miss massive amounts of time.

Frankly, the difference with him in or out of the lineup started to be very difficult to notice. He adds very little as a blocker, and while that's not super critical nowadays it's worth mentioning. While I never want to criticize McVay, having Cooks out of the lineup seemed to make him less likely to call those annoying WR screens which he's so fond of, which took the offense forward another step.

On the other hand, I actually do understand why Houston made this trade. The Rams take on 21 million dollars in dead cap space, and while I don't know how expensive Cooks will be for Houston, his contract is 21 million less over the next three years. Gambling a late second round pick for a guy with injury issues but high upside makes a lot of sense. Cooks at ~10 million per year for three years with the ability to cut him at any time dead money free, is an attractive offer. I wouldn't go for it myself, but I understand.

24 Nice summary. The reason I…

In reply to by theTDC

Nice summary. The reason I am alarmed by this trade from Houston’s POV (again), is the very recent, and severe concussion history. Cooks missed multiple games last season after repeated concussion, it’s not unreasonable to speculate he is one more blow away from his career being over. I know the Rams are desperate to clear cap space, and appear to have the resources at WR to absorb this loss, but I cannot believe the concussions did not factor into their willingness to trade, and swallow a chunk of his contract. 

Looking more broadly, no doubt other teams’ front offices are now homing in on Houston/O’Brien for favourable trading opportunities.