The Eagles are in trade discussions with the New Orleans Saints about wide receiver Brandin Cooks, according to ESPN. The report stated that the Eagles and Tennessee Titans are two interested suitors for Cooks, and that the Titans are the more likely of the two.
But when identifying a best-case scenario for the Eagles to fill their wide-receiver need while staying salary cap-compliant and true to the team’s long-term outlook, there are few better options than Cooks.
At 23, Cooks is actually nine months younger than Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz even though he’s already played three seasons. He’s had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, with 78 catches for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
Cooks, who is 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds, was an object of the Eagles’ affection in the 2014 draft before the Saints selected him two spots before the Eagles were on the board. He is known for his big-play speed – he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the combine three years ago – but he is also a high-volume receiver. He has caught at least seven passes in 26 percent of his NFL games.
So why would he be available? Saints coach Sean Payton has said that he “absolutely” expects Cooks back next season, but ESPN reported back in December that Cooks could be dealt this offseason after Cooks expressed frustration with his role in the Saints’ offense. New Orleans struck gold with second-round receiver Michael Thomas last season, and Cooks is eligible for a contract extension this offseason and has one year and a fifth-year option remaining on his deal.
The Titans would have more ammunition to acquire Cooks, with two first-round picks and two third-round picks. They don’t have a second-rounder. The Eagles have one pick in rounds 1-3 and 5-7, and two picks in the fourth round.
But if the Eagles can pay the right price, Cooks would be more cost effective and at a more desirable age than a free-agent wide receiver. His base salary is only $781,599 in 2017, and he would cost a team only $1.56 million in a trade. The Eagles are tight on cap space and are expected to add a wide receiver, so that would be ideal. A new team would have him under contract this year and have a fifth-year option for Cooks in 2018.
And at 23, Cooks is young enough to be compared to draft prospects. In fact, expected Day 2 pick Cooper Kupp is older than Cooks.
There are many rumors around the NFL this time of year, but this is one Eagles fans should monitor. If it comes to fruition, it could fill a hole the Eagles have and not compromise any of their concerns with offseason additions.