‘We never want to lose talented players,’ Texans coach DeMeco Ryans reflects on trading Brandin Cooks

Texans traded wide receiver to Dallas Cowboys for fifth-round and sixth-round draft picks

FILE - Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) makes a catch as Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby defends during the second half of an NFL football game on Sept. 18, 2022, in Denver. The Dallas Cowboys acquired receiver Cooks in a trade with the Houston Texans on Sunday, March 19, 2023, adding a speedy veteran to play alongside CeeDee Lamb. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (David Zalubowski, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PHOENIX – DeMeco Ryans didn’t mince words, or downplay the significance of the Texans trading Brandin Cooks, their top wide receiver, to the Dallas Cowboys.

Unloading Cooks, at his request, didn’t net the Texans a lot, acquiring a fifth-round selection this year and a sixth-round pick in 2024 while agreeing to pay $6 million of his $18 million guaranteed.

And the departure of Cooks creates a void at a thin wide receiver position, which Ryans discussed at the annual NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

“It sucks losing a talented receiver in Brandin,” Ryans told KPRC 2 Monday morning. “So, we never want to lose talented players. We’re really trying to acquire as many talented players as possible. So, it’s hard losing him. And I wish Brandin the best in Dallas. I know he’ll do well. We have to move forward. Unfortunately, that’s part of the process, part of our business to lose players like that.”

Cooks reiterated to Ryans after he was hired that he still wanted a trade after nearly being traded to the Cowboys at the NFL trade deadline last year.

Cooks was adamant he would not change his mind, so the Texans met his standing trade request.

After news of the trade broke, Cooks expressed his gratitude to Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones and his excitement about joining the Cowboys, a playoff team and Super Bowl contender.

“Man, honestly, I just feel blessed really for this opportunity to contribute to something that’s already special,” Cooks told KPRC 2 in a telephone interview. “For the Jones family believing in me and the coaches and players, I look forward to joining something that’s special and to help bring that mindset everywhere I go.”

Cooks emphasized he has plenty left in the tank and has maintained his speed and playmaking ability with a dedicated workout and diet regimen.

“No doubt,” Cooks said. “If you know me, I don’t really talk about it. I feel better at this age than I’ve ever felt. With the way I take care of my body, there’s no slowing down anytime.”

Cooks’ standing trade request was met as the Texans agreed to send him to the NFC East franchise after nearly trading him to Dallas at the NFL trade deadline last fall, according to sources.

Cooks, 29, didn’t want to be a part of an ongoing rebuilding process and reiterated that desire to the team. He drew interest from multiple AFC and NFC teams, according to league sources

Cooks complimented Texans general manager Nick Caserio and his agent, Ryan Tollner, of Rep1 Sports, for their work in facilitating the trade.

“Nick, at the end of the day, we’ve got respect for one another,” Cooks said. “While it may have been a long process, he kept his word and worked with us and ultimately put us in position. I wanted to go to Dallas. I thank them for believing in me. Both parties did right by each other. I’ve got respect for Nick for keeping his word.

“Shout-out to my agent, Ryan, thankful. I know it’s been a process, but for him staying at it and doing everything professionally. I think that speaks for my camp and my side. We do things professionally.”

Meanwhile, the Texans are moving forward without Cooks.

The Texans signed former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods to a two-year, $15.25 million contract. They also signed former Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown and return Nico Collins and Amari Rodgers with John Metchie III expected to be back after missing his rookie season while undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Cooks caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns last season on 93 targets. He has caught 699 career passes for 8,616 yards and 49 touchdowns.

The Texans have the second overall and 12th overall draft picks. They are bringing in Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Ngiba for a visit and met with USC wide receiver Jordan Addison at the scouting combine along with TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Maryland wide receiver Rakim Jarrett visited the Texans, too.

“We have 12 picks in the draft, and we’re looking again to add as many talented guys who are dedicated to help us build,” Ryans said. “That’s about it.”

Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com