Former First-Round Playmaker Could Force Way to Cowboys, Says Insider

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field prior to Super Bowl 51.

The Dallas Cowboys failed to make a trade for Houston Texans receiver Brandin Cooks, but there is an outside chance the team could still land the playmaker. Cooks has missed two straight practices for personal reasons and expressed frustration after Houston declined to trade him at the deadline. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted that Cooks could attempt to be released by the Texans to get to the Cowboys but will face an uphill battle.

“This year, receiver Brandin Cooks could try to do the same thing [as Odell Beckham getting released by Browns in 2021], now that he hasn’t been traded by the Texans before the deadline,” Florio wrote on November 2. “The Cowboys, in remarks that come close to the tampering line if not cross it, admit they were talking to the Texans. The Rams were rumored to be interested in a reunion. So if Cooks could wriggle out of his contract in Houston, he could join one of those teams.

“But it won’t be easy. He has a fully-guaranteed base salary of $18 million in 2023. Assuming the deal has offset language, the Texans could just cut him and pay the difference between whatever he makes elsewhere next year and the guaranteed amount. Cooks could also agree to carve away some of that guarantee, dropping it to $15 million or $12 million or whatever it would take to get the Texans to cut him loose.”

If Released, Cooks Will Still Have to Go Through Waivers

If the Cowboys were interested in giving up assets for Cooks, fans can expect Dallas to run at the opportunity to potentially add the receiver who posted back-to-back 1,000-yards seasons. Even if Cooks is released, the wideout would still be subject to waivers meaning there is no guarantee he would land in Dallas if another team claimed the receiver. After the trade deadline, Cooks took to Twitter to post a cryptic message as the playmaker appeared to take aim at the Texans.

“Don’t take a man’s kindness for granted,” Cooks posted on November 1. “Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career. 🏹”

The Texans Will Likely Keep Cooks & Explore Potential Trade This Offseason

Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones admitted that the team was looking for ways to add a receiver. Without mentioning Cooks by name, Jones noted that he “really felt like some things might happen” in terms of the Cowboys making an acquisition at the trade deadline.

“Certainly, it’s our job too to look out for ways to make the team better if the right situation presents itself,” Jones remarked to reporters on November 2. “Unfortunately, we worked hard yesterday, had a long day. Really felt like some things might happen, and it didn’t work out.”

The more likely scenario for Cooks is that the Texans will hold onto the veteran receiver and once again explore potential trades during the offseason. If Cooks was released, he would join Odell Beckham Jr. as the top available free agents on the market. The sticking point for the Cowboys in a potential deal was taking on Cooks’ $39 million contract, particularly his $18 million salary for 2023.

“The Cowboys and Texans were discussing a deal to send WR Brandin Cooks to Dallas, per sources,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweeted on November 1. “And the sides were in the neighborhood on comp. Cooks’ $18 million guarantee for 2023 was the dealbreaker here.”