With the Super Bowl just around the corner, NFL teams are quietly brainstorming different ways to improve their respective rosters. One player who will draw heavy interest early on this offseason is Houston Texans own Brandin Cooks. Cooks made his frustration with the Texans public midway through this season in hopes of being traded before the Week Eight trade deadline. The Texans’ efforts fell short when they couldn’t find a trade partner willing to take on Cooks’ expensive contract. Cooks’ contract has a cap hit of over $26 million in 2023 as well as a dead cap hit of $34 million. Because Cooks’ dead cap is larger than his cap hit, he is essentially uncuttable. Cooks has made it clear that he does not want to be part of a rebuilding process, he wants to move to a contender and the Texans will have to pay a portion of his salary to help make that trade happen. With a trade imminent, let’s take a look at his best landing spots with contenders throughout the league.
5.) Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are currently projected to have the seventh most cap space in 2023. That will change drastically if they can manage to sign Lamar Jackson back, presumably to a mega contract. Regardless as to whether Jackson signs back or not, the Ravens are desperate for help in their wide receiver room. Their lead receiver in 2022 was Demarcus Robinson, with a measly 458 receiving yards. Cooks would immediately step into the lead receiver role and could mentor Rashod Bateman as he works his way back from injury. The Ravens are guaranteed to make the playoffs with Jackson under center, and acquiring Cooks could be an incentive to help lure Jackson back. This fit wouldn’t be ideal for Cooks, but his usage would make up for the inconsistency in the team’s passing attack.
4.) Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills season ended earlier than most people anticipated, and Brandin Cooks may be the answer they’ve been looking for all along. During the Divisional Round playoff game versus the Cincinnati Bengals, Stefon Diggs was held to just four receptions for 35 yards. No other receiver was able to produce, while Diggs drew the focus of the defense. Cooks would be the perfect second option in Buffalo, he could thrive against single coverage when Diggs is doubled. An MVP level talent in Josh Allen would be so much fun to play with, and Cooks would potentially have a career high in production right away.
3.) Dallas Cowboys
Cooks is already dreaming about potentially becoming one of “Dem Boyz.” With similar passing numbers as Josh Allen, Dak Prescott could feed Cooks as well. The Dallas Cowboys have decent receiving options outside of CeeDee Lamb, but they seem to want more after trying out Odell Beckham Jr. and signing T.Y. Hilton. Cooks would have an easier path to the Super Bowl in the NFC, as it seems he truly values playing for a winner. When looking for a path to success, I’d say avoiding Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow is probably the way to go.
2.) New York Giants
Another team from the NFC East? Absolutely. The New York Football Giants turned heads this season, making the playoffs and beating the three seed Minnesota Vikings. New head coach Brian Daboll has been a night and day difference in the mentoring of Daniel Jones, and Brandin Cooks would fit perfectly with this roster. Jones can’t produce as much as Allen or Prescott, but what he was able to accomplish with the worst receiving room in the league was astounding. Cooks would propel this passing attack and would be the de facto number one option, similar to what he would receive in Baltimore. Unlike the Ravens, the Giants are certain about who will play quarterback for them in 2023. Cooks would get the benefit of being the true number one receiver, as well as the benefit of playing in a more wide open NFC bracket.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have all the perfect benefits of the previous four teams on this list combined. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league and arguably the most talented football player to ever live. On his way to another MVP season, Mahomes is the warhead who runs the AFC. He has made it to every AFC Championship Game since becoming a starter, that’s five years consecutively. Cooks can go ahead and check off the “contender” box when evaluating his landing spot. In addition to being the Super Bowl favorite right off the bat, Cooks could also be Mahomes’ number one wide receiver as well! Currently, the lead wide receiver for the Chiefs is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is currently on the tail end of his one-year deal he signed last offseason. Smith-Schuster will test the market, and there is a great chance he decides to leave in pursuit of a large deal after taking a pay cut this season. Cooks has the chance to be the top receiver for the best quarterback on the winningest team in the league. Something tells me he’d be willing to restructure his contract into a more team-friendly deal to make this work.