Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on Brandin Cooks' Two Year Contract Extension

Brandin Cooks signed a two year contract extension with the Houston Texans.
Brandin Cooks signed a two year contract extension with the Houston Texans. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Over the last couple weeks, there had been plenty of smoke around the future of Houston Texans wide receiver and team leader Brandin Cooks. Rumors abounded around NFL circles that Cooks could be the latest Texan on the move, in another transaction designed to stack more draft capital on the pile that GM Nick Caserio has already amassed for the next few years.

As recently as Thursday, rumors swirled about Cooks as a target for the Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, and Browns. Additionally, the Packers and Chiefs both seemed like logical trade partners for the Texans, with teams having recently traded their number one wide receivers (Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, respectively) for packages that included late first round picks in this month's draft.

In the end, the Texans not only chose to ignore the trade offers for Cooks, but went a step further and committed to Cooks for two more years, in addition to the upcoming 2022 season. As it was reported by several outlets on Thursday night Cooks had agreed to a two year extension that would pay him just under $40 million over those two years. Cooks is guaranteed $36 million on those two seasons, and the deal means that Cooks is locked into the Texans for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 seasons.

A few thoughts on this significant move for Nick Caserio and the Texans:

This deal seems to make sense for both sides
While it's fun to fantasize about what other player the Texans could bring aboard in the draft with a pick coming back in a Cooks deal, having Cooks on the team the next few seasons is a solid move. While he is probably a notch below the truly elite receivers in the league, Cooks is about as consistent a player as you'll find. He's been largely healthy for the entirety of his eight seasons in the league, and in six of those eight seasons he's gone over the 1,000 yard mark. If you're trying to build a culture, Cooks' leadership can be a valuable ingredient to that endeavor. From Cooks' standpoint, he seems to like it here, has already been traded three times in his career, and likely enjoys being somewhat settled down for a change. Also, when someone waves $36 million in guaranteed money for signing your name, it can be tough to say "No."

The Texans' two most talented players have now shown some degree of long term commitment this offseason
Earlier this offseason, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who missed the final 12 games of the season, despite being seemingly recovered from a wrist injury for the final month or so of the season, reworked his contract with the team to open up some cap space. Additionally, he posted on social media, rather excitedly, that he isn't leaving the Texans. Then Cooks signs this contract extension. Those are two gestures that, symbolically at least, show two good football players WANTING to remain with the team. This is likely a byproduct, to some degree, of the experience and presidential demeanor new head coach Lovie Smith brings that, quite frankly, David Culley did not last year. Maybe, just maybe, the Texans are turning a bit of a corner when ti comes to being a place that good players want to play. Now they just need more good players. Speaking of which....

What should this mean for the Texans and wide receivers in the upcoming draft?
I have thought all along that using the 13th overall pick, one of the three first round picks acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade, on a wide receiver makes a lot of sense. Obviously, trading Cooks would have created a big vacancy on the depth chart at that position. Keeping Cooks has led to some Texan fans saying "Well, now they don't need to take a receiver in the first round." I don't necessarily agree with that. I think the Texans have acute needs EVERYWHERE, including wide receiver. If, on draft night, the best player on their board when pick 13 comes up is a receiver, then take him. Load up on weapons. Make life easier for Davis Mills. Speaking of which....

What does this contract extension say about QB Davis Mills?
I think there are two things we can read into the Texans' decision to not only hang onto Cooks, but also extend his contract. The fact that the Texans didn't move Cooks for a premium draft pick likely indicates they feel they can win some games with Mills at quarterback over the next couple seasons. Cooks' decision to sign an extension is probably based, at least in some part, to his belief that Mills can be a competent starting quarterback over an entire NFL season. We'll find out if that's the case when Cooks speaks to the media on Tuesday.

The Texans begin their offseason activities with their current players Monday morning with workouts at the stadium. The draft is less than three weeks away. The NFL never stops.

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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 afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast