March 03, 2017
No matter how you slice it, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks makes a whole lot of sense for the Philadelphia Eagles.
He's fast, and quick, with the ability to take the top off the defense on long pass plays, and the ability to run after the catch for big gains on short pass plays.
At the NFL Combine in 2014, Cooks ran 4.33 40, he set an NFL record with a 10.72 60-yard shuttle, and he was in the 98th percentile of all wide receivers competing at the Combine since 1999 in the 20-yard shuttle.
Over the last two seasons in the NFL, Cooks has 162 catches for 2311 yards and 17 TDs. In his final season at Oregon State, he had 128 catches (second in the nation) for 1730 yards (best in the nation) and 16 TDs (second in the nation). He catches in volume and distance.
Oh, and by the way, at only 23-years old, he's actually nine months younger than Carson Wentz.
The last two seasons in Philadelphia, meanwhile, opposing defensive coordinators knew they could play their safeties close to the line of scrimmage, making it tougher on the run game as well as the short-to-intermediate passing game. They didn't have to respect any deep threats who could get behind their defense, and as a result, the Eagles were handicapped in regard to what they could accomplish offensively. The Eagles absolutely have to find a deep threat this offseason, and it appears that they know it.
On Wednesday, reports emerged that both the Eagles and Titans were in trade talks for Cooks, which makes a lot of sense, seeing as the Eagles arguably had the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL in 2016, and Cooks would give them the skill (deep speed) that they lack the most.
Almost as importantly as what he would give the Eagles on the field, he makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint.
If the Eagles were to trade for Cooks, he would count for $1,563,198 on their salary cap in 2017. As PhillyVoice reported over a month ago, the Eagles expected to free up significant cap space this offseason. By trading for Cooks, the Eagles will have added a wide receiver who they will eventually have to pay top dollar for but who would give them a low-cost player in 2017.
In 2018, the Eagles could exercise Cooks' fifth-year option, which could be in the ballpark of $10 million, and if need be, would have the unappealing option of the franchise tag in 2019, which will almost certainly be in excess of $17 million. To note, four other receivers from Cooks' draft class are likely see big-time dollars whenever their contracts are extended. They are Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Kelvin Benjamin, so any eventual contract extension will not come cheaply, assuming Cooks performs well.
The Saints clearly want to make a trade. Head coach Sean Payton went on his own team's website for a video interview to talk about Cooks and say they'd listen to offers, even if he tried to preface it by saying Cooks is "not on the trading block." Subtle move, Sean.
The Saints are going to say they want a first-round pick in return for Cooks. That's fine. However, they are out-leveraged. With a strong free agent class of wide receivers, any interested parties, whether they be the Titans or Eagles, can easily say they'll explore those options instead and keep their first rounder, but nice talking to you.
In that respect, trading a first-round pick wouldn't be particularly good value for the Eagles or Titans, given the circumstances. But for a two, the Eagles should make that trade in a heartbeat.
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