Jun 14, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) practices drills at minicamp at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
What should the Texans do with Brandin Cooks?
The Houston Texans wide receiver quit on the team last year before returning after a public trade demand.
I am not someone who begrudges players for wanting to get paid. They risk life and limb in the field every time they step on it. Theirs are the bodies that often leave the game mangled, sometimes beyond repair, for the glory of victory and the entertainment of the people.
However, there’s a brain requirement here as well. The brain is required to determine whether or not you want to play somewhere before locking yourself in with a contract. This is the part Cooks and his agent forgot.
Cooks knew the Texans were in rebuild mode before he signed his two-year extension with the team that paid him nearly $40 million, of which $36 million was guaranteed. If he didn’t want to be part of a rebuild, he should have been smart enough to allow himself to become a free agent instead of locking himself into a team he 100% knew was going to rebuild.
Instead, he chose the route of get paid and force your way out later. It hasn’t worked for him so far.
The biggest reason it hasn’t worked for him is because he was not very good last season. Formerly known as a “quarterback-proof” receiver, Cooks turned in one of the worst seasons of his career in 2022.
Cooks failed to go over 100 yards until Week 18, when he finally crossed the century mark against a team that was just as awful as the Texans were.
His 57 receptions for 699 yards were the third-lowest totals of his career. One of those other seasons was his rookie year when he played only 10 games, the other was 2019 when he suffered multiple concussions and the Rams offense took a massive step backwards due to the then-regression of Jared Goff.
Now, Cooks’ salary for 2023 is a fully guaranteed $18 million, on top of the spread out signing bonus, restructure bonus, and roster bonus that push his cap number for the Texans in 2023 to nearly $26.5 million.
Zero teams are interested in taking on Cooks for $18 million after the season he just had, which included quitting on his team at the deadline when he was not traded. Cooks was so bent for not being traded that he just left the team. The Texans were gracious with him in that they did not fine him for doing so, and allowed him to come back later on.
Should the Texans trade Cooks, they will eat approximately $11.5 million in dead cap money, for bonus money already paid and spread out.
Since Cooks picked the worst possible time to have a down year with $18 million fully guaranteed next season, here are the ultimate end games involved:
A) Cooks buckles himself up, recommits to the team, balls out, strikes an agreement with the team to let him walk after the season as his 2024 salary is not guaranteed.
B) Cooks agrees to give up some of the $18 million guaranteed 2023 salary he is owed to facilitate a trade to a destination he can hopefully be involved in choosing.
C) Cooks pouts and stomps his feet demanding to be traded every couple of weeks until he gets his way. Texans dump him for anything they can get without paying any money.
D) Same as C except Texans have to cover part of Cooks 2023 salary to move him.
Since the Texans are already eating a big cap charge to move Cooks, paying any money towards his 2023 salary should be a non-starter.
If he agrees to stay, he needs to commit, not just show up. If he pulls any of his shenanigans, the Texans need to hammer him with fines. No nonsense permitted.
If he is willing to give up some cash to facilitate a trade to a team that he and his agent help arrange, so be it. The cheaper cost should net the Texans a better return.
If the Texans have to move him for a Day 3 pick to avoid taking back any extra money, I will live with it.
The fact Cooks was putting his usual cryptic nonsense tweets out the same day the Texans announced the hiring of DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach told me the likelihood of his recommitment is somewhere between 0-1%.
Once upon a time, Cooks was considered a team leader and a locker room guy. That time has come and gone for this team apparently, considering Cooks doubling down despite the Ryans announcement.
So it’s time so say goodbye. As Lovie Smith often said last year, “sometimes divorce is a good thing.”
Time for the Texans to divorce from Cooks. Just no extra payout in the process.