Will the Texans trade Brandin Cooks before the NFL trade deadline?

Texans WR Brandin Cooks looks likely to be moved ahead of the 2021 NFL trade deadline, but which teams could be in the market to acquire him?

The 2021 season has certainly not gone well for the Houston Texans. Several of their veteran players are in the shop window, but perhaps no more than WR Brandin Cooks. Will Cooks be the next Texans player to move before the 2021 NFL trade deadline, and which teams might be in the market for him in 2021?

Brandin Cooks’ contract makes him an intriguing trade target

The situation with Cooks is absolutely fascinating. In five of his first seven years, Cooks topped 1,000 yards receiving while catching an average of 65% of the balls thrown his way. However, the 28-year-old WR has already been traded three times and could be on his way to the fourth trade inside eight NFL seasons.

It seemed likely that Cooks would move ahead of the deadline. However, the Texans are apparently hesitant to trade him and want to build around him. If it wasn’t already on the cards, his public frustration at the departure of RB Mark Ingram to the Saints on Wednesday might have accelerated the process. What makes him such an intriguing trade chip is that Cooks’ contract is incredibly friendly to acquire a top-tier wide receiver.

Cooks’ salary for 2021 was just $2.5 million entering the season. Most of his remaining $5.6 million cap number comprises of a $500,000 workout bonus, and a $2.5 million restructure bonus. Therefore, for any team acquiring Cooks, they would be looking at taking on a cap number of around $2.5 million and a total of approximately $1.46 million in salary for the rest of the year.

The team acquiring him would also have Cooks at $12 million for 2022. However, none of that money is guaranteed. Thus, teams will have the option to decide whether Cooks is a one-year or long-term solution this offseason.

Which teams could be interested in Cooks at the trade deadline?

Quite honestly, this is tough to pinpoint just a few teams. That’s because any team that is not loaded at WR should be interested in acquiring Cooks.

The combination of a receiver currently catching 70% of targets, is on pace for over 1,200 receiving yards, and comes with a cap hit south of $3 million is extremely attractive. Let’s take a look at some of the potential teams that should have Cooks in their sights.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have had a tough time with injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry this season. What looked like one of the best WR situations in the league entering the year has been somewhat of a disaster for Cleveland.

Beckham has just 226 yards on 33 targets through five games, while Landry has been active for just three games and is injured again. The Browns’ depth chart has some intriguing options, but none are as talented as Cooks.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers could make a real statement to Aaron Rodgers — while also increasing their chances of a Super Bowl run. Cooks, in combination with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, would be part of a potent and reliable trio for Rodgers to target. Combine them with the running game led by Aaron Jones, and this would be a tough offense to plan against.

Kansas City Chiefs

A move for Cooks feels like something the Chiefs have to do. They haven’t yet found an adequate third receiving option to replace Sammy Watkins. In Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs have one of the most dangerous pass-catching duos in the league. Yet, without a legitimate third option, teams can focus their attention on them and prevent those two from beating them.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have been getting value out of K.J. Osborn as their WR3. He has 311 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, and a catch percentage of 74.3% on 35 targets this season. Nevertheless, for as good as he has been, adding Cooks would give this offense a new dynamic.

Additionally, if the Vikings were to lose any of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, or Osborn, then the depth at the position would be a problem. The Vikings could add Cooks and still have the ability to support their current wide receivers in the offense.

Tennessee Titans

Whether the Texans would trade Cooks within the division is questionable. But the Titans could cement their place as one of the best receiving groups in the league with the addition of Cooks. Imagine defensive coordinators spending the week trying to work out how to cover Cooks, Julio Jones, and A.J. Brown while also attempting to stop Derrick Henry from running all over them.

Furthermore, with Jones and Brown both having had injury concerns this season, adding Cooks would mean they could always have at least one top-tier receiver on the field at a time.

Could the Cardinals, Bills, Cowboys, Rams, or Buccaneers be interested in trading for Cooks?

This would all come down to the asking price. All five of these offenses are stacked with receiving talent. However, there is always room to add a receiver of Cooks’ caliber and experience. Most likely, none of them would actively chase and get into a bidding war for his services. Yet, if they can do it for a mid-to-late-round pick, then the risk is low.

Naturally, an injury to any of these teams’ top receiving options might change that situation. While it could be a risk for the Texans to not trade Cooks until after the weekend, it could also work out in their favor if a couple of contending teams head into Week 9 with question marks.

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