Cowboys Turned Down Blockbuster Trade for $39 Million Star: Report

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looks on during an NFL game.

With hours to go during the NFL trade deadline, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared to drop a hint that a major move was coming, but in the end, the team opted not to make a significant deal. Dallas’ lone move came prior to Week 8 when the team acquired veteran defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins from the Raiders.

We do know the Cowboys held trade talks to potentially add a wide receiver. Just before the trade deadline struck midnight, reported that Dallas was “close” to landing Cooks, but the receiver’s $39 million contract combined with the draft compensation the Texans were seeking prevented the move from being completed.

“A source tells that ‘we were close’ to a deal as the Cowboys and Texans were in active discussion centered around Cooks right up to the deadline approaching,” Sports Illustrated’s Zach Dimmitt detailed on November 1, 2022. “However, Cooks’ $18 million guaranteed 2023 year on the veteran receiver’s 2023 contract created an obstacle that prevented a potential deal from happening.

“It was ‘complicated,’ a source said.

“And the ‘complications’ involved money issues on both sides.”

The Cowboys Could Not Agree on Compensation & Cooks’ Salary

The possible Texans-Cowboys deal appears to be one of the biggest trades that did not reach the finish line. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, draft compensation along with Cooks’ $18 million salary for 2023 prevented the Cowboys from agreeing to a trade. The teams would have needed to strike a deal by October 31 for Cooks’ contract to be restructured.

“Two sources directly involved tell me Cowboys and Texans discussed a potential trade involving WR Brandin Cooks until the final minutes before the NFL trade deadline expired,” Werder tweeted on November 1. “Draft pick compensation and the $18M guaranteed salary for Cooks in 2023 could not be resolved in time.”

Cooks has had back-to-back seasons topping 1,000 receiving yards along with six touchdowns for Houston. The star wideout is on pace for lesser numbers this season notching 32 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown during his first seven appearances in 2022.

Cooks would have fit nicely in the Cowboys offense providing explosive speed alongside CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. The failed deal is sure to fuel speculation that the Cowboys may seriously explore signing Odell Beckham Jr. once he is back to full strength.

Interested Teams Wanted the Texans to Eat Some of Cooks’ $18 Million Salary for 2023

It is unclear what the Texans were asking for as draft compensation, but it is hard to imagine Houston landing more than a day-two selection. ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that interested teams were looking for Houston to “pay more than about 60-70%” of the receiver’s salary for 2023.

“Houston definitely spoke to teams about Cooks, and would have been happy to move him and be out of his contract,” Graziano detailed on November 2. “But that contract, which he and the team agreed to this past offseason, became the problem. Cooks’ new deal includes a fully guaranteed $18 million salary for 2023, and would-be acquiring teams were turned off by the idea of giving Houston what it wanted in terms of draft-pick compensation and committing $18 million to Cooks for next year. One or the other, sure, but not both.

“Houston, from what I was told, would have had to pay more than about 60-70% of that money in order to get a deal done, and talks never reached the point where they could agree on those numbers.”

According to Sports Illustrated’s NFL insider Albert Breer, the Cowboys and Texans were “in the neighborhood” on compensation. Dallas appeared to be stuck on Cooks’ salary for next season which ultimately prevented the deal from coming to fruition.

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