Brandin Cooks trade grade: Texans find DeAndre Hopkins replacement while Rams get a second-round pick


The Los Angeles Rams were finally able to find a taker for Brandin Cooks. All they had to do was give Bill O’Brien a call. 

Los Angeles dealt Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a 2020 second-round pick, the third time Cooks has been dealt since 2017. Cooks becomes the most proven receiver on the Texans’ roster after catching 402 passes for 5,730 yards and 34 touchdowns in his six-year career — including four 1,000-yard seasons. 

The Rams recoup some draft capital by parting ways with Cooks, who was a 1,000-yard receiver for the franchise in 2018 and earned a five-year, $81 million extension after Los Angeles acquired him from the New England Patriots. 

At the end of the day, the Cooks trade was between two franchises who have made some very suspect moves of late. The Rams and Texans were perfect trade partners for Cooks, who has one of the strangest careers to date. 

Here are the trade grades for both teams on the Cooks trade: 

Texans: C

The Texans didn’t have to give up that much for Cooks, but a 2020 second-round pick (No. 57) is still a bit much for a player who’s had five concussions over his career — including two in a 25-day span in 2019. The Texans wouldn’t have had to do this if they had just decided to keep DeAndre Hopkins for 2020 and beyond. Cooks is a big downgrade from Hopkins, especially when considering those concussions.

Cooks caught 42 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams last season, with the catches and touchdowns career lows for the 26-year-old wideout. His 13.9 yards per catch is also his lowest since 2015. The Texans probably could’ve gotten Cooks for less than a second-round pick, but Bill O’Brien does Bill O’Brien things (he traded Hopkins for David Johnson last month). All the Rams had to do was call O’Brien to find a taker to get out of Cooks’ contract. 

If Cooks’ concussion issues don’t reemerge, the Texans will have a reliable target for Deshaun Watson for the next several years. Cooks had a career-high 1,204 yards for the Rams in 2018 and finished with a career-high 16.6 yards per catch in 2017 with the New England Patriots. He’ll be the No. 1 wide receiver in the Texans offense, which is a deep group with Will Fuller, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills. Cooks isn’t the same player as Hopkins, but the Texans can become a more vertical offense with him on the roster. 

Houston has seven draft picks, but just three in the first 111 selections, with no first-round pick. The Texans have a second (No. 40, from Arizona in the Hopkins deal), a third (No. 97), a fourth (No. 111), a fifth (No. 171) and three seventh-round picks (No. 240, No. 248, No. 250). The Texans continue to give away draft picks for players with massive deals, the latest being the remaining three years and $39 million owed to Cooks. 

If Cooks is healthy, he could wind up being a bargain for Houston. 

Rams: C+

Kudos to the Rams for finding someone to take on Cooks’ contract, but the front office continues to mismanage their cap situation and could have made this deal weeks ago. The Rams failed to trade Cooks before March 15, giving him a $4 million roster bonus in his contract. Then they didn’t trade him before March 20, which fully guaranteed his 2020 salary of $8 million. As a result, the Rams suffer a $21.8 million dead cap hit in 2020 by dealing Cooks, which is higher than any cap figure given to a wide receiver this season (per Spotrac). That’s just bad business by general manager Les Snead, who has sent away Cooks and Todd Gurley less than two years after giving them massive deals. Per Over The Cap, the Rams are $5,349,165 over the cap, even with Gurley and Cooks off the roster. 

Snead deserves some credit for calling O’Brien and getting him to take Cooks off his hands, yet alone getting O’Brien to overpay and acquire a second-round pick (No. 57 overall) in the process. The Rams were desperate to add some draft capital after the series of trades they made over the past few seasons, trading away their first-round pick (and next year’s first-round pick) in the Jalen Ramsey deal and a fifth-round pick in the Dante Fowler deal (Fowler signed with the Falcons this offseason). 

Los Angeles has two second-round picks (No. 52 and No. 57), two third-round picks (No. 84 and No. 104), a fourth (No. 126), a sixth (No. 199) and a seventh (No. 234). The Rams now have four picks on Day 2 of the draft and can use one of those second-round picks to replace Cooks in the offense. This is an excellent year to select a wide receiver in the draft, especially on Day 2. A top rookie can match the production of Cooks and has more upside. 

The Rams also are out of the three years and $39 million remaining on Cooks’ contract. They still gave Cooks $50 million guaranteed and have plenty of bad contracts on the books (cough, Jared Goff, cough), but trading Cooks is a step in the right direction. 





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