NFL Rumors: Cowboys Trade for Brandin Cooks from Texans amid Odell Beckham Jr. Buzz

Erin WalshMarch 19, 2023

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans lines up at the line of scrimmage against the Washington Commanders at NRG Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Houston Texans are trading veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Trade terms:<br><br>🏈Houston receives: a 5th round pick in 2023 and 6th round pick in 2024.<br><br>🏈Dallas receives: WR Brandin Cooks.

Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cowboys</a> have discussed fifth-round and sixth-round pick compensation for Brandin Cooks, per league sources. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a> are expected to pay $6 million of his $18 million guaranteed contract to facilitate the trade, per sources. <a href="https://twitter.com/KPRC2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KPRC2</a>

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler first reported the potential deal.

The Cowboys had been linked to Odell Beckham Jr. at times last year and during the offseason, but Cooks should provide quarterback Dak Prescott with a secondary option as the squad tries to take another step toward title contention.

Prior to the reported trade, Fowler noted during ESPN SportsCenter on Sunday morning that the Cowboys "could revisit that situation."

Following the trade, Fowler provided insight on how landing Cooks could impact the Cowboys' pursuit of Beckham Jr.:

"I wouldn't eliminate anything, but now that they're going to pay Cooks another, say, $12 million, along with the big salaries they already have on the books, that might take them out. Or, at least, makes it more challenging to get Odell Beckham. I know they've had interest in Beckham. He's going to command top dollar, too, though, so there's going to be teams interested and in the mix. Dallas could poke around a little bit, but I've gotten the impression they're not looking to be big spenders in free agency necessarily. If he were to fall to them with a more reasonable price, then maybe that would happen. We'll see. Dallas has pulled off bigger feats as we've seen with all of the big free agents they've signed in past years. With Jerry Jones, I'll never take it off the table. But you're going to have everyone from Buffalo, to the Jets, potentially the Chiefs—there's going to be a lot of interest in this guy."

Cooks has been one of the top trade targets for teams at wide receiver because the free-agent market hasn't featured another star at the level of Beckham Jr. Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston reported Feb. 28 that "multiple" teams had expressed interest in Cooks.

The veteran wideout "reiterated this offseason his desire to change teams and join a playoff contender after going 11-38-1 with the Texans over the past three seasons," Wilson added.

By trading him before June 1, the Texans will save $10.4 million in 2023, per Spotrac. However, they also take on $16.2 million in dead cap.

The move has been a long time coming for Cooks, who requested a trade ahead of the 2022 season's deadline. He was expecting to be traded by then, but after the Texans failed to find a partner, he made his frustrations known on Twitter with a series of posts in early November:

Brandin Cooks @brandincooks

Don't take a man's kindness for granted. Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career 🏹

Brandin Cooks @brandincooks

He will make my paths straight. Trust trust trust him🏹

It was a tough ask for the Texans to find a trade for the 29-year-old because of his $18 million fully guaranteed salary for 2023.

Still, Cooks also voiced his displeasure to the media on Nov. 13:

"Look, man, I'm human, I'm frustrated, absolutely. I want to win. That's not the case as to what's going on. That's the way I expressed my emotion. I think we all want to win. We're all frustrated in some sense. That's where I stand with that. ...

"Being in the league in general, when you suit up, you want to compete and win games. That's not going on, so the frustration stems from that and a lot of things."

The Texans then stripped the Oregon State product of his captaincy, which came after NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport reported then-head coach Lovie Smith removed the captain's patch from the receiver after he publicly complained about not being traded.

After the Texans finished the 2022 season with a 3-13-1 record and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, Cooks reiterated his desire to be moved in the offseason.

"I'm not going into this offseason thinking I want to be a part of a rebuild," he said on Jan. 9, per ESPN's DJ Bien-Aime.

"I'm not looking at it as far as being a part of a rebuild, however that looks," he added. "That's why I trust my camp and my representation to be able to get a map from here to there and to see what that looks like to be a part of something that has a trusted plan."

Cooks had been with the Texans since the 2020 campaign, and the team went 11-38-1 in that span.

In 44 games across three seasons with the franchise, he caught 228 passes for 2,886 yards and 15 touchdowns. He posted back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons in 2020 and 2021 before posting 699 yards in 13 games during the 2022 campaign.

Over the last several seasons, Cooks has proved he can still be a reliable receiver, and he should be a great addition for the Cowboys.

Dallas already had one elite receiver with CeeDee Lamb, but no one else topped 600 receiving yards last season. Michael Gallup and Noah Brown struggled to replicate the production lost when Amari Cooper went to the Cleveland Browns.

Over his nine-year NFL career, Cooks has also spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints and has now been traded four times.