INDIANAPOLIS – INDIANAPOLIS -- As veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ standing trade request remains unresolved, new Texans coach DeMeco Ryans has had a conversation with him.
Cooks doesn’t want to be a part of an ongoing rebuilding process and has reiterated that desire to the team. He has also drawn interest from multiple AFC and NFC teams interested in acquiring him, according to league sources. Further complicating the situation is Cooks’ $18 million fully guaranteed base salary.
“I’ve spoken with Brandin and that process will have to, it will play itself out,” Ryans said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “We’ll do what’s best for our team. I have spoken with him. Great guy. I would love to work with him. I’ve spoken with him.”
DeMeco Ryans on Brandin Cooks @KPRC2 'I have spoken to Brandin. That process will play itself out. Great guy. I would love to work with him' https://t.co/f9kwLwTmZI https://t.co/TmCJ0ZOd3T pic.twitter.com/DzufbdqoGc— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 1, 2023
No deal is imminent or developing at this time, but sources emphasized there’s plenty of interest in Cooks. He 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 since being acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams. With several teams interested and the NFL scouting combine an ideal place to have those type of conversations, there’s optimism that groundwork can be established toward a potential offseason trade.
“I’d say we’re kind of in the team building process here,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said Tuesday morning. Every player, every individual situation we’ll look at it. Then, ultimately we’ll do what feels best for the team and the organization moving forward.”
Cooks is due $18 million guaranteed in 2023, so a potential deal would likely involve the Texans paying a large chunk of his salary. He caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Cooks walked onto the Texans’ practice field before the final game of the season, joining his teammates before pausing along his path to shake hands and hug Caserio days before the last game of the season Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
It was a friendly exchange between two men whose strong relationship and mutual respect goes back to their shared tenure with the New England Patriots. Cooks was nearly dealt at the NFL deadline, then missed one game against the Philadelphia Eagles for personal reasons stemming from his disappointment and frustration after not being traded to the Dallas Cowboys is expected to be worked on and, in all likelihood, accommodated this offseason.
“I think my agent and Nick and I, we have a good working relationship and, after this game, we’ll be able to discuss what the future looks like,” Cooks told KPRC 2 at the close of the season. “This situation, obviously has got to be a win-win for both sides. I think Nick understands that. We understand that. I think he’s trying to grow something here. As a guy going into Year 10 of my career, I want to be a part of a vision where everyone is on the same page and has a stable vision.
“That’s my hope as a player. As a player, I’ve worked too hard and seen too many different situations here. I know they’re trying to get it right and get it going. I know Nick has a big job in front of him. I think we’ll discuss it after the season. Both sides will have a good understanding.”
Ultimately, no deal could be worked out for Cooks to be traded. It was an extremely complicated situation due to financial reasons with Cooks’ $18 million guaranteed base salary in 2023 along with the Texans’ high asking price in terms of draft capital. The Texans, ideally, wanted a second-round draft pick and other compensation in exchange for Cooks, per league sources, and teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, wanted them to pay a large portion of his salary to make the trade work.
Cooks drew trade inquiries and interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys, according to league sources.
Acquired by the Texans from the Rams in a 2020 trade for a second-round draft pick, Cooks would tie Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson for the most trades involving an individual player in NFL history if he’s traded for a fourth time. The former New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick form Oregon State was previously traded to the Patriots and then the Rams before joining the Texans.
If the 3-13-1 Texans were built to compete and not facing so much uncertainty-deficiencies at key positions, Cooks acknowledged he would feel differently about the situation and how he fits into that dynamic.
“No doubt, that’s the kind of thing that would excite me,” Cooks said. “If the organization was stable in its approach and a stable operation, not just from a football standpoint, but from the every-day process. I do understand Nick is trying to build that. For me, it’s going to be important to already have that set. Not just for me, but for my family and feeling good about the situation.”
Signed to a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension last year, Cooks caught a career-high 90 passes in 2021 on 134 targets for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. In his first season with the Texans while playing with three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last offseason, Cooks caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns.
Cooks is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL with a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash. A former track standout growing up in Stockton, Calif., and in college, Cooks, said he knows he gave the Texans what he had. It’s unfortunate that didn’t translate into a longer tenure or more victories.
“In every way, I gave everything I had for three years,” Cooks said. “Regardless of the situation and a lot of things that was going on, I always worked my tail off and tried to be the best player and the best leader I can be.”
Aaron Wilson is a Texans NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com