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Brandin Cooks Trade Rumors: Where Will the Saints Wide Receiver Play in 2017?

By Paul Wilson in Sports
| March 3, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Brandin Cooks Feature

The NFL Combine gives way to constant speculation every year. Teams head to Indianapolis to scout a new wave of pro football talent, but in between inspecting college players is a lot of talk about what teams plan to do in various spots on their roster.

That leads to speculation about who will be cut, which teams are high on which college prospects and which players will sign where. It also breeds NFL trade rumors, with one such nugget coming out of New Orleans.

Brandin Cooks trade rumors are nothing new (they popped up last year) but they’re especially heating up with several teams looking to improve their passing games. Cooks emerged as a potential trade chip last year, both due to him being disgruntled over an inconsistent role in the Saints’ passing game, as well as the emergence of star rookie wide receiver, Michael Thomas.

Trading away Cooks seems like a bold move for the Saints, but they did the same thing with stud tight end Jimmy Graham two years ago because they realized they needed more help elsewhere. That continues to be the case, as New Orleans likely believes (arguably rightfully so) that they can keep inserting pieces into their potent offensive system, but they need help to rebuild a porous defense.

Without the pieces needed currently to thrive on defense, that puts Cooks firmly on the trading block, while news that the Saints would be willing to make a move for a second round pick has had the trade chatter gain traction.

Regardless what the compensation ends up being, Saints head coach Sean Payton has admitted the Brandin Cooks trade rumors are legit:

That doesn’t mean Cooks for sure gets dealt, but we’re closer now to a Brandin Cooks trade than we’ve been before. So, where does that have him landing in 2017? Let’s take a look at our five favorite spots:

Philadelphia Eagles

It would be strange for the Saints to hand such an explosive talent like Cooks to an NFC foe, but we could be getting dangerously close to that reality. Per multiple reports, the receiver-needy Eagles are the early front-runners to land Cooks:

This move makes perfect sense for Philadelphia, who don’t seem to be content with their wide receiving corps and badly want to make life easier for second-year quarterback, Carson Wentz.

Philly has been loosely tied to deep threats like DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills, but trading for Cooks and losing perhaps just a second round pick (and maybe an additional late round pick) would make more sense, especially since Cooks is still hooked to his rookie contract and is under team control through the 2018 NFL season.

For two mild draft picks, the Eagles could get a cheap burner to pair with Wentz and then go out and find another option to help promote a suddenly explosive passing game.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans feel like another logical Brandin Cooks destination, as Tennessee badly needs to get quarterback Marcus Mariota some reliable help in the passing game. The Titans have lost three wide receivers over the past two years to release, trade or free agency and currently lack any reliable big play threats.

Depending on what they plan on doing in free agency or the draft, a trade for the explosive Cooks could be just what the doctor ordered. This could be a more desirable move for the Saints, too, seeing as it would get Cooks out of the NFC. Should Tennessee sweeten the deal with a little more ammo than the Eagles can provide, one would think the Saints would prefer this trade.

For Cooks, this is still a fantastic landing spot. The Titans are on the rise about as much as the Eagles, as they have an even better young franchise passer. The role would be there for Cooks to thrive, while the Titans would also probably get to work on a long-term deal almost immediately.

Washington Redskins

A lot of the best Brandin Cooks trade options seem to be coming out of the NFC, so perhaps the Saints won’t try to fight it and will simply sniff out the best deal. Washington is certainly a team that could show interest, as they seem ready to let DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon walk in free agency.

Instead of overpaying two aging veterans, the Redskins could trade for Cooks and see how he fits in their system. If he’s a hit over the next year or so, the ‘Skins could then engage in long-term contract talks. Cooks hypothetically gives them a variation of what D-Jax brings to the table and if they can get Kirk Cousins to agree to a long-term deal, this could be a match made in heaven.

This would also be a huge get for the Redskins in that they could swoop in and land a nice upgrade at a position of need, while also stopping the Eagles from landing the same deal.

Chicago Bears

Chicago is in a steep rebuilding phase and might not even have a suitable quarterback for this season, but landing Cooks could allow them to comfortably move on from Alshon Jeffery.

Instead of paying up to land the injury-riddled Jeffery, the Bears could keep their passing game afloat with Cooks, while also hoping Kevin White and Cameron Meredith both mature into reliable weapons.

The Bears still don’t seem to know what they want to do under center, but the extra cash could open the door to a big signing (Tony Romo or Tyrod Taylor?) or they could find a way to make a play for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo or A.J. McCarron in a separate trade.

Chicago is far away from contending as they stand and probably want to save their draft picks to build up their defense, but landing an explosive (and proven) wide receiver on the cheap could be a great move.

San Francisco 49ers

It still feels weird to keep looking at NFC trade options for Cooks, but the AFC field doesn’t look as strong when you look at needs across the board. That could leave the Niners as one of the last logical landing spots:

One big reason why Cooks fits here is because rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan lacks any imposing talent on San Francisco’s offense right now and he is basically starting from scratch. After leading an insanely dynamic offense in Atlanta, he won’t want to enter 2017 with spare parts.

Enter a Brandin Cooks trade, who can open up deep shots down the field or turn short screens into long gains. Cooks could be a major weapon out of the gates and he wouldn’t cost much until the Niners would be forced into long-term talks in 2019.

San Francisco has bigger fish to fry a quarterback with Colin Kaepernick opting for free agency, but perhaps trading for a speedster like Cooks makes the Bay Area a little more attractive for a veteran like Kirk Cousins (via trade), Tony Romo, Tyrod Taylor or even Jay Cutler. As for New Orleans, this could be the least threatening trade inside the NFC, as the 49ers appear further than any other team in the conference from competing.

Where Will Brandin Cooks Play in 2017?

The writing on the wall points to Brandin Cooks being traded to the Eagles. Sean Payton and co. will take a package of picks and move on at wide receiver, while trading Cooks to a team that so far isn’t yet a title contender.

Trading Cooks inside the NFC is a bold move, but New Orleans wasn’t afraid to do so with Jimmy Graham and we don’t think it stops them here, either. The harsh reality is the Saints need to get way better on defense and added picks will only help the process. They have plenty of offensive talent to supplant Cooks, while they can also always add more in the 2017 NFL Draft.

There are many things leading to Cooks going to the Eagles, too. The need is there, the rumors have already pointed there and Cooks and Carson Wentz even share the same agent.

It’s possible the Saints hold onto Cooks another year or trade him somewhere else, altogether.

However, if we’re betting on where Brandin Cooks gets traded, we’d go hard at the Eagles.

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