“Free me,” Brandin Cooks Tweeted Friday night, spawning questions about his status with the Rams. Does he want to be traded? Or is “free me” referring to some sort of get-me-out-this-quarantined life?
After an earlier version of this note ran, I was told by two sources that Cooks is not on the block. If that changes, it would continue one of the oddest careers of a very good player ever. Cooks was drafted 20th overall by the Saints in 2014.
- In 2016, at 23, catching passes from Drew Brees, Cooks was the Saints’ deep threat, averaging 15.0 yards a catch with eight touchdowns.
- In 2017, he was traded to the Patriots for the 32nd pick in the first round. At 24, he caught passes from Tom Brady, and his 16.6-yard average resulted in Brady’s best and most consistent deep threat in years.
- In 2018, he was traded to the Rams for the 23rd pick in the first round. At 25, he caught passes from Jared Goff, and his 1,204 yards were the most in his career. He was the key receiver on a Super Bowl team.
In 2020, Cooks has had concussion issues, and his production dipped to 3.0 catches per game last year, by far a career-low. An acquiring team would owe him $20 million the next two years, and then could cut him without a hurtful cap hit. For about 4 percent and then 5.5 percent of the salary cap over the next two seasons, Cooks could be the missing link to a contending team … but of course, that would mean the Rams would be willing to deal him. Which as of now they’re apparently not willing to do.
My best landing spots for Cooks, if the Rams would entertain a deal, would be Philadelphia, Green Bay, Las Vegas or Washington. Of course, the strength of the receiver group in this draft will affect any of those teams’ willingness to pursue Cooks.
Amazing, really, that one player, at 26, has already been worth the 20th, 32nd and 23rd picks in three different drafts.