Report: Brandin Cooks Restructures Contract Amid Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

The Houston Texans restructured the contract of veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.

Wilson noted Cooks was originally supposed to count for $12 million against the salary cap for 2021 but that the Texans freed up $6.5 million from that figure.

The move comes amid continued speculation about the future of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has reportedly requested a trade.

With Watson disgruntled, the Texans might be facing a difficult rebuild. There's almost no chance Houston could trade a quarterback of Watson's caliber and remain a playoff contender.

Between that and Cooks' salary, some wondered whether the 27-year-old pass-catcher might be on the way out. However, he told reporters in January he wasn't keen on being traded for what would be the fourth time:

"For me, [No.] 4 [Deshaun Watson] is a special player, and I would love to continue to grow with him. But as far as a team thinking they could trade me for draft capital, I would caution them to think twice, because quite frankly, I'm not going to accept any more trades. And so, for me, if you want me off your team, you've just got to let me walk and choose my destination."

He didn't have any guaranteed money on his contract, so the restructure may have worked to both sides' benefit. Houston gained a little more flexibility with the salary cap set to fall from $198.2 million to $182.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, and Cooks got to collect a portion of his original salary rather than possibly being released outright.

Independent of whatever happens with Watson, the Texans could ill afford to lose to him, either, after having declined to apply the franchise tag to Will Fuller V. 

Cooks was the team's leading receiver, finishing with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. In the event Fuller leaves in free agency, he will once again have to play a prominent role in the passing game.

And if the front office is still optimistic about getting Watson back on board, then losing both of his top receivers wouldn't have sent a great message, one year after the team traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.