Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on Crazy Texans Sunday — Cooks Traded, Tunsil Extended

Laremy Tunsil resets the left tackle market again in a new contract extension.
Laremy Tunsil resets the left tackle market again in a new contract extension. Photo by Eric Sauseda
On Saturday night, as I was watching the second half of the University of Houston's dismantling of Auburn in the second round of the NCAA tournament, I turned to my wife Amy and said "I'm really surprised how quiet the NFL news cycle has been today," as I noticed that the two biggest news breakers in the sport, Adam Schefter of ESPN and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, had not tweeted all day long.

Well, it was almost as if Texans general manager Nick Caserio were listening in on this conversation between me and my wife and said to himself "You want news, Sean? You got it!" Within minutes of each other, two heavy Houston Texans news items dropped during breakfast on Sunday morning, as the Texans finally completed a trade for disgruntled wide receiver Brandin Cooks:
And shortly thereafter, maybe even simultaneously, for all intents and purposes, the Texans extended franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil for three more seasons:
A few thoughts on this busy Sunday morning for the local football team:

Ultimately, Cooks had to go
Brandin Cooks went into the 2022 season as one of the Houston Texans' team captains, fresh off inking a two year contract extension worth $36 million guaranteed. However, once the Texans fired former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby, Cooks, a noted Easterby supporter, got sideways with the team, started cryptically tweeting, and ultimately quit on the team for a week after the trade deadline came and went with him still on the Texans' roster. Cooks was stripped of his captaincy, and essentially counted down the days until a trade came. Signing Robert Woods last week was another sign the Texans were likely moving on from Cooks. Finally, it happened, albeit for what was likely a disappointing return for a receiver who has six 1,000 yard seasons to his credit.

The role reversal between Tunsil and Cooks is one of the more remarkable things I've ever seen
Mentioning Cooks' captaincy being stripped, though, is only half the story. Ultimately, his replacement as offensive team captain was Tunsil, who himself was sideways with the Texans one year earlier, during the dreadful season of David Culley as head coach. Tunsil hurt his wrist in Week 5, and what was forecasted as a "four to six week" injury turned into the rest of the season. The perception was Tunsil had quit on the Texans. Now, here we are, a little over a year later, and Tunsil is getting a market resetting contract extension, and Cooks is being shipped out for 30 cents on the dollar. What a wild turn of events!

There will be more cap space!
Here is the update on the effects of the Texans' two moves on their salary cap situation. Both moves actually open up space under the cap:
The effects on the draft next month
We are less than six weeks away from the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. With the Texans, who now have 12 selections in the draft, a number that will almost certainly change once pick-trading addict Nick Caserio is done, they are in need still, of fortifications at practically every position. The Cooks trade doesn't really impact urgency at the wide receiver position, as they already needed playmakers at that position in a big, big way. The Tunsil extension likely de-prioritizes offensive tackle with a premium pick, and if anything, is a tell that they are certainly taking a young quarterback with the second pick in the draft. A young quarterback having Laremy Tunsil protecting his blind side is a luxury item, for sure.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast