The Los Angeles Rams traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans for the 57th overall pick in the 2020 draft on Thursday.
On March 16 Bill O’Brien and Co. sent former All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson and a second-round pick; something that rose some eyebrows around the NFL.
“It is amazing in the NFL that some trades are so lopsided still,” on NFL executive told The Athletic. “The Hopkins thing was a joke. How the David Johnson contract was included in the deal just astounds me.”
Now they have done little to fix that reputation by essentially replacing Hopkins with Cooks and using the second round pick they got from Arizona to do so. While Cooks has been a solid player for most of his career, to Texan fans he’s an obvious downgrade.
For the Rams however the deal was another step towards shedding some ugly contracts.
Los Angeles gave Cooks a five-year, $81 million contract extension before his first snap in California; and while he was a dynamic threat for them 2019 proved they overpaid. Dealing him leaves the team with a combined $33 million in dead cap space (including dead money caused by releasing Todd Gurley), but allows them to put bad deals of their own behind them.
It also presents them with an opportunity to go after one of the many receiver prospects in the 2020 draft. In a class that ESPN’s Todd McShay thinks could have 12 WRs off the board in the first two rounds, the Rams can make a much cheaper investment to replace him
This depth is also what makes this trade seem more than a little silly to some for Houston. Rather than picking up the remainder of Cooks’ contract, they could have held onto the pick and used it themselves.
Most teams who trade away one of their best players are gearing up for the long-term future; a situation where youth should be welcomed. But instead they acquired a 26-year-old speedster coming off the least productive season of his six-year career.
Columnist for the Monday Morning Quarterback Andrew Brandt listed the Texans missteps on twitter.
He hauled in 53 passes in 10 games as a rookie, scoring three touchdowns; but proved himself a real threat with his second act.
In his first fully completed season with the Saints he amassed 1,138 yards and nine scores while averaging 13.5 yards per reception. That number steadily rose year by year, peaking at 16 yards a catch in 2017 with the New England Patriots.
He earned a reputation for ripping off massive plays, like this one during his time with in New Orleans.
The 98-yard dash with Cooks dusting defensive backs in an all-out sprint is still the longest in Saints history.
But despite his speed general reputation as a good locker room presence, he simply doesn’t measure up to the man he’s replacing. Hopkins is a physical freak of nature whose strength and incredible hand strength have made him a three time first team All-Pro while Cooks is still searching for his first Pro Bowl.
Many teams would be happy to have Cooks on their roster, but few would have paid as much as the Texans.