Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks isn’t worth a first round pick

Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 48-41. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 48-41. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s clear that the Philadelphia Eagles are looking for an upgrade at wide receiver and the New Orleans Saints are shopping one in Brandin Cooks.

The Philadelphia Eagles have wanted Cooks for a while apparently making a run at him around the trade deadline that fell through. They’ve now been reconnected with him along with the Titans in the lead up to the draft. The initial belief was that a third or fourth round pick plus a player may be enough to pry Cooks from the Saints but now this isn’t looking like the case.

Reports have emerged that the Saints have turned down an offer from the New England Patriots of their first-round pick, 32nd overall. It shows that the Saints would like a mid first round pick which both the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans can offer. The Eagles own the 14th pick and the Titans own the 18th pick.

If Cooks’ fifth-year option on his rookie deal is picked up, whichever team trades for him would have two years before he hits the market as an unrestricted free agent. At that time the Philadelphia Eagles should have about 71 million dollars of free cap space to negotiate with Cooks and other pending free agents. While that’s a lot of money, contracts add up quickly and Cooks is on track to get PAID.

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He has back to back 1,000-yard receiving seasons but they should be taken with a grain of salt for two reasons. First, there’s the dome effect. Playing in New Orleans in the NFC South, Cooks plays at least nine games in a controlled environment per season (at minimum). In a dome, he has averaged 71.4 yards per game over 25 career games. When exposed to the elements, that number drops to 57.8 yards per game during 12 games. While this is also affected by the fact that the Saints are on the road, Cooks can’t be expected to put up comparable numbers in Philadelphia.

Another reason for that is the presence of Drew Brees. The Saints’ signal caller is one of the best ever and due to Sean Payton‘s trust in him, Brees throws the ball about 660 times per year. That’s a lot of pass attempts to go around. Last season, Carson Wentz threw the ball 607 times, a number that should go down with a reliable running game behind him this season. This should mean that there will be at least 60 fewer targets to go around if Cooks were to join the Philadelphia Eagles.

While Cooks would be far and away the Eagles’ number one receiver, he already is the top dog in New Orleans so it’s reasonable to expect those numbers to fall especially when you trade defenses like the Falcons and the Panthers for the Cowboys and the Giants.

Cap Flexibility

It’s known that the Philadelphia Eagles don’t have much cap space. Currently, they have 8.6 million dollars to play with this offseason according to In 2018, this number drops to 5.0 million, while that can be maneuvered around, Cooks’ salary would jump from 1.5 million to 8.5 million between 2017-18 if the Eagles decided to pick up his fifth-year option.

While Cooks is a top receiver, the Eagles would be sacrificing cap flexibility for a guy who potentially could bolt in 2019 to chase a big contract. This makes a bigger difference when it’s compared to the fact that the slot value for the 14th pick in the draft was about 12 million dollars last year. That would be a stable number that is guaranteed through the 2020 season when the Philadelphia Eagles can spend freely. It’s tough to argue sacrificing that cap freedom as well as the shot at a top prospect in the draft.

The Philadelphia Eagles would take the uncertain route by picking the draft over the proven NFL quantity in Cooks but this is what they brought in Joe Douglas for. Taking away his first round pick that they maneuvered to get shows that the Eagles don’t have complete faith in his decision making. It wouldn’t make much sense with the emphasis that has been placed on the draft to ship out the most valuable pick.

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While Brandin Cooks would be a great addition to the Philadelphia Eagles, if it comes down to a first round pick, Howie Roseman shouldn’t pull the trigger. That pick will come to better use in the long term by being used by the eagles. While there are short-term games to be had by shooting for Cooks, this isn’t a team that should be competing for the NFC crown next year. Hold your horses and continue to build for the future.