INDIANAPOLIS - 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 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 compliant with the salary cap and true to their 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 has already played three seasons. He has 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' desire in the 2014 draft before the Saints selected him two spots ahead of the Eagles' pick. 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.
Saints coach Sean Payton has said that he "absolutely" expects Cooks back next season, but ESPN reported in December that Cooks could be dealt this offseason after Cooks expressed frustration with his role in the Saints offense. 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 assets 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 meet the price, Cooks would be more cost-effective and at a more desirable age than a free-agent wide receiver. He will count less than $2 million against the salary cap. The Eagles are tight on cap space and are expected to acquire help for Wentz. So it would be a boon to find a talented option at a cost-controlled salary. A new team would have him under contract this season and have a fifth-year option for Cooks in 2018.
Eagles executive Howie Roseman said Wednesday that the combine is a useful time to negotiate trades. The Eagles' trade of Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso last year came together at the combine.
"You have a chance to talk to all the other teams about potential trades," Roseman said. "It's almost like the winter meetings of football. It gives us a chance to see if there's something that makes sense for our team and then go from there."