Philadelphia Eagles: The third time’s the charm for a Brandin Cooks trade

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

After almost becoming the heir apparent to DeSean Jackson in 2013, the third time’s the charm for the Philadelphia Eagles to finally trade for Brandin Cooks.

In 2014, Chip Kelly really wanted the Philadelphia Eagles to draft Brandin Cooks.

With DeSean Jackson officially a Washington Redskin – a move so objectionable the team eventually remedied it half a decade later – Kelly wanted to replace one of the league’s premier speedsters with a younger, more dynamic option, bonus points if he played college ball in Oregon.

Cooks fit that bill to a T.

Sitting pretty with the 22nd overall pick in a historically deep wide receivers draft, the Eagles targeted six specific players worthy of their first-round pick, but above all else was Cooks – the Pac-12’s most prolific receiver who hauled in 195 passes for 2,881 yards and 21 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Oregon State.

Here‘s what Kelly had to say on the subject on draft weekend via Philly Mag’s Sheil Kapadia:

"“We want to be bigger at the receiver position, but you would be crazy if you looked at Brandin Cooks and said we’re not going to take him because he’s 5-9. You know what I mean? He’s also a rocked‑up 190 some odd pounds and a physical player.”"

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*sigh* Philly would go on to regret not trading up for Cooks until Jackson’s return in 2019.

Whether drafting mid-round speedsters like Shelton Gibson, trading for a freaky athlete like Dorial Green-Beckham, or a slew of free agent signings of everyone from Chris Givens, to Mike Wallace, and even Torrey Smith, Howie Roseman tried numerous times to add speed on the outside with little success. Cooks was supposed to be ‘the guy‘ for the Eagles, and they never really had a Plan B to account for those pesky New Orleans Saints trading up to 20th overall to secure his rights.

Well guess what? For the third time in his career, Cooks is available via trade, and this time, the Eagles should lock him up once and for all.

Initially traded to the New England Patriots for a first-round pick in 2017, Cooks faced off against the Eagles in Super Bowl 52, where he hauled in one pass for 23 yards on two targets. From there, he was once again traded, this time to the Los Angeles Rams, again for a first-round pick.

Has any single player had three separate first-round picks used to procure their services over a five year period? That must be some sort of record.

Tasked with learning a new scheme under a new head coach with a new quarterback for the third time in as many seasons, Cooks remained one of the league’s premier deep threats at the tender age of 25 – recording his fourth-straight 1,000 yard season. Sure, the presence of Sean McVay certainly helped his cause, but going from Drew Brees and Tom Brady to Jared Goff more or less events that out, right?

So, you may ask, if Cooks is so good, why is he being shopped? Well, my friend, that answer is twofold.

First and foremost, Cooks signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rams in 2018 and is set to make $16.8 million in 2020. If he’s traded with a post-July 1st designation, the Rams would only be on the books for $4.8 million in 2020, 2021, 2022, and $3.8 million in 2023. While that’s a lot of money to pay for a player who is 1. good and 2. on a different team, the Rams paid way more to Todd Gurley to secure his release earlier this month and he was viewed by many as the face of the franchise not 18 months prior.

Another factor playing into a desire to trade Cooks is his rather underwhelming 2019 season. For a wide receiver on the Eagles, recording 42 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns would have been the team’s high water mark, but after passing the century mark in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, recording his second-worst season as a pro was rather underwhelming for the price the Rams paid for his services.

The Rams’ roster is just too expensive, and in order to remain competitive long-term, the team with the NFL’s weirdest logo must perform a minor rebuild on the fly to secure flexibility moving forward.

I think Roseman and company could help their NFC neighbors out.

In 2020 as in 2013, Cooks would immediately slot in as the Eagles’ fastest receiver thanks to a blazing fast 4.33 40 yard dash – .02 seconds faster than Jackson. Speaking of Jackson, Cooks could actually deploy very effectively across from DJax on the outside, or deployed out of the slot.

Despite measuring in at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, Cooks is physical. Sure, he’s a beast on go routes in the vertical passing game, but about a quarter of Cooks’ receiving yards since 2018 came after the catch. Outside of an Alshon Jeffery-style 50-50 ball, Cooks can succeed at every level on the field, run every route, and most importantly of all, move the chains as an offense’s primary weapon.

Cooks also fits perfectly into Roseman’s plan to build a young corps around Carson Wentz. Despite having three more years of NFL experience, Cooks is actually nine months younger than Wentz and could build a fantastic trio alongside Miles Sanders for years to come.

If the price is right – likely a Day 2 pick due to his cap hit and down 2019 season – there is very little reason why Cooks couldn’t instantly become the Eagles’ top receiver in 2020 and beyond.

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The Philadelphia Eagles really shouldn’t overthink this one. They have eight picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, a little over $28 million in available cap space, and a potential need for a new number one receiver depending on what goes down with Alshon Jeffery. After almost drafting him in 2013, and missing out on two more opportunities to trade a first-round pick for his services, the third time’s the charm for Brandin Cooks to finally make his debut in midnight green.