Want to trade for Brandin Cooks? It’s going to cost you.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that the Saints receiver is drawing trade heat during this week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. ESPN went on to name both the Titans and Eagles as interested suitors.
On Friday, though, Rapoport made it clear that Cooks won’t come cheap. The Saints are telling teams they want a first-round pick in exchange for the 5-foot-10, 189-pound pass-catcher, sources informed of the situation told Rapoport.
Complicating matters further, Cooks wants a “hefty contract extension” that would place him among the highest-paid at his position, per Rapoport.
It doesn’t mean that New Orleans won’t come down from its perch, but this new information is a game-changer.
The Titans own both the No. 5 and No. 18 picks in the first round. The Eagles will roll with the 14th pick, after winning their coin toss with the Colts on Friday. Every one of those selections are incredibly valuable and likely too precious to part with.
Cooks is a talented receiver, but the idea of paying him like a top-five wideout is problematic. If he were truly this valuable, the Saints wouldn’t spend the week aggressively shopping him.
“Right now, I’m comfortable, we’re comfortable with him in a Saints uniform, and we think the world of him and his skill set,” coach Sean Payton told the team’s official website on Thursday. “It would have to be something real significant. That’s part of being at the combine and that’s one of the things that takes place down here and that news certainly spreads quicker now than it would 10 years ago.”
Phenomenal second-year pass-catcher Michael Thomas makes Cooks theoretically expendable, as does the presence of Willie Snead.
Still, Cooks — despite being unhappy with his role — finished with 78 catches for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season, down just six grabs from 2015. His overall targets dipped from 129 two seasons ago to 117 in 2016, but Cooks isn’t the only mouth to feed.
There is no question about his talent, but Cooks is not easy to move considering what the Saints want — and what Cooks wants.
We’ll find out soon enough if the suitors in play still see this as a viable roster-building option.