March 07, 2017
The Philadelphia Eagles and the rest of the National Football League are now in the twilight zone known as “legal tampering.”
From now until Thursday the NFL will allow its member clubs to talk to representatives of free agent players. The sides can discuss all terms of contracts but no deal can be finalized until Thursday when the NFL officially opens its free agent season.
It is a crazy system which basically amounts to being legally separated – you can scout around, but nothing is official until the divorce is legal.
For fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, it is a particularly enticing time for a couple of reasons. First, there is the obvious need for executive vice president (read – general manager) Howie Roseman to grab a shopping cart and head down the isle of free agency. Second, the upcoming NFL Draft will be in its entire splendor on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia and you can be sure that Roseman wouldn’t want to arrive on the scene without the 14th-overall pick.
Yo, Howie: Put on your Big Boy Nike sneakers and Just Do it. Do it before next Monday when the Saints will owe Cooks about $800,000 in bonus money.
Cooks is a proven commodity. He is a receiver with wheels who can stretch the field and even at just 5-10, he can take the top off a defense. The Eagles have a potential franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and there is no need to take the slow and deliberate path to getting him to fulfill his potential.
The Eagles play in the NFC East where worst to first is a common occurrence and Cooks is the sort of player who can make that quick turnaround a reality. The first priority should be to give Wentz the weapons he needs to develop into a top-level quarterback.
Certainly, there are other options for the Eagles. They should be able to find enough cap space to pick up players in free agency, especially when you take into account the expected gains in space when players – such as Connor Barwin – are removed
The net result of this is that the Eagles are not limited to one addition. They can trade for Cooks and if they want, they can still shop the free agent market. The options out there still include players such as Kenny Stills or the most popular name – Terrelle Pryor, the Browns receiver coming off a big season. Pryor has been linked to, among others, the Steelers, Giants and Titans, in addition to the Eagles.
Pryor is also linked to agent Drew Rosenhaus, which means he is likely going to hit the financial home run. Pryor is playing this perfectly, letting it be known he loves playing in Cleveland, a sort of hometown for the Buckeye product, so it will take a huge payday to get him out.
There is also the issue of Pryor being tempted by the lure of playing with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh or even Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. You can argue that Wentz will soon be on the elite level with Big Ben, but he’s not there yet.
From this side of the computer screen, the logical choice for the Eagles is to go out and make the trade for Cooks. The Eagles are not the only team interested in landing Cooks as it has been reported that the New England Patriots have already made a pitch to land him.
The Patriots have a pretty good record of chasing quality players. The Eagles should also consider that Patriots coach and mastermind Bill Belichick has held training sessions with the Saints the last two seasons, which has allowed him to get a good look at Cooks.
Supposedly, the Patriots offered their first-round pick as part of a deal. The Patriots’ pick is at the bottom of the heap, so an Eagles’ pick would be a lot more attractive. There is also the possibility that the Eagles could add players and finagle a way to get Cooks with a second-round pick.
Cooks is signed through this season, and the Eagles could also sign him for and $8 million option next season. The home run could come in 2019 when he could become an unrestricted free agent.
The argument is that the Eagles should not lay out money for a receiver they won’t control for four years as they would in a draft.
Look at it this way: By all measures, Nelson Agholor has been a bust. Agholor was drafted in the first round in 2014, one year before Cooks, and if he had worked out he would have been due the big money Cooks will get if he is what the Eagles expect.
Replace Agholor with Cooks? The Eagles shouldn’t drop the ball on this opportunity.