Cowboys' Depth Chart, Salary Cap, Draft Picks After Brandin Cooks Trade with Texans

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2023

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans gets set against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys added a key piece to the offense with the reported trade for veteran receiver Brandin Cooks, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Dallas gave up a 2023 fifth-round pick and 2024 sixth-round pick in exchange for Cooks, leaving the squad plenty of picks in the upcoming draft.

  • Round 1: No. 26 overall
  • Round 2: No. 58 overall
  • Round 3: No. 90 overall
  • Round 4: No. 129 overall
  • Round 5: No. 169 overall
  • Round 6: No. 212 overall
  • Round 7: No. 244 overall

The cap hit might be a bigger concern, but the Cowboys entered the day with the fourth-most space in the NFL at about $25 million, while the Texans will help on the salary:

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>

Most importantly, the move will provide a boost at a key position to the offense.

Cowboys Offensive Depth Chart

QB: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush

RB: Tony Pollard, Malik Davis

WR: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup

WR: Brandin Cooks, Jalen Tolbert

TE: Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot

LT: Tyron Smith, Matt Waletzko

LG: Tyler Smith, Matt Farniok

C: Tyler Biadasz, Brock Hoffman

RG: Zack Martin

RT: Terence Steele, Josh Ball

CeeDee Lamb earned his second Pro Bowl selection last year and set career highs with 107 catches for 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns, but it was clear the offense missed Amari Cooper as a secondary downfield option. With Dalton Schultz set to leave in free agency, the team needed another weapon to help out Dak Prescott in the passing attack.

Cooks is coming off a down 2022 season, totaling just 57 catches for 699 yards and three scores. Of course, motivation might have been a concern for a player on a losing team who wanted to be traded midseason.

The 29-year-old had 90 catches for 1,037 yards a year earlier, his sixth time topping 1,000 receiving yards in his first eight seasons.

Dallas should expect this level of production next season to help an offense that was already one of the league's best with 27.5 points per game. Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert will also provide a boost to the passing attack, although they will have less pressure on them in smaller roles thanks to Cooks.

The Cowboys have also been in the mix for Odell Beckham Jr., although ESPN's Jeremy Fowler noted on SportsCenter that it's more unlikely after acquiring Cooks:

"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."

Even without Beckham, Cooks provides some much-needed wideout depth to make this a more well-rounded team compared to last season. If Tony Pollard can return to full strength in the backfield, this could be a difficult team to defend.