Proposed Trade Sends Cowboys a $39 Million Playmaker Amid Rumors

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones throws up a thumbs up before an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys nearly acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks prior to last season’s NFL trade deadline, and it remains to be seen whether the franchise could once again explore a deal with the Houston Texans. The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reported that the Cowboys have “ambition” to add another “dynamic weapon” this offseason.

“While other quality skill-position players, including wide receiver Michael Gallup, are on the roster, multiple people familiar with the club’s thinking said the team has ambition here,” Gehlken wrote on March 2, 2023. “Another dynamic weapon, it believes, is needed. Another dynamic weapon will be added.

“He could come in the draft. He could come in the veteran market. While entertaining all avenues, the Cowboys are actively pursuing a difference-making playmaker to bolster quarterback Dak Prescott’s arsenal.”

This has prompted speculation on just who Dallas is targeting to bolster their offense in the coming months. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox suggested a potential deal that has the Cowboys sending two fourth-round picks (2023, 2024) in exchange for Cooks.

“Cooks isn’t interested in being a part of Houston’s rebuild, and he has requested a trade this offseason,” Knox noted on March 6. “Circling back to Cooks would make plenty of sense for Dallas.

“With Cooks’ $18 million base salary guaranteed and on the books for Houston, the Texans won’t be inclined to let Cooks go for proverbial pennies. However, a couple of early Day 3 selections could be enough to get Houston’s attention, since Cooks has no desire to play in Houston this season.”

The Texans’ Asking Price Combined With Brandin Cooks’ Salary Prevented a Trade

Yet, the same roadblocks that prevented a deal for Cooks getting done last season remain from Dallas’ perspective. Cooks has two years remaining on a $39 million contract and a $18 million salary for 2023 that Dallas was unwilling to take on at the trade deadline. Given Cooks’ unhappiness, Houston may be more willing to eat some of Cooks’ salary in order to facilitate a deal.

“The Cowboys and Texans were discussing a deal to send WR Brandin Cooks to Dallas, per sources,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported on November 1, 2022. “And the sides were in the neighborhood on comp. Cooks’ $18 million guarantee for 2023 was the dealbreaker here.”

Will McClay on Brandin Cooks: ‘He Was Making a Whole Lot More Money Than We Wanted to Pay’

Cooks had 57 receptions for 699 yards and three touchdowns during 13 appearances in 2022. The veteran is just one year removed from posting back-to-back seasons topping 1,000 receiving yards.

The Cowboys’ previous interest in Cooks is no secret, and it will be worth watching to see if the team is still intrigued by potentially trading for the playmaker. Without mentioning Cooks by name, vice president of player personnel Will McClay cited the Texans’ asking price as well as the receiver’s salary as deal breakers at the deadline, essentially revealing the team’s discussions about the veteran wideout.

“It also takes two to tango when it comes to the trade deadline,” McClay explained during the January 23 edition of 105.3 The Fan’s “Cowboys Hour.” “If I want something, but you want more than I’m willing to give for it, it’s not going to work. And we tried to do certain things. There was an opportunity in this trade period, [we] talked about a receiver from Houston. They wanted way more than you wanted to give for him and he was making a whole lot more money than we wanted to pay.”

Dallas could revisit a Cooks trade, but it likely makes more sense for the Cowboys to sign a player like Odell Beckham Jr. who would not require the team to give up any draft capital in order to add. Cooks remains a good backup option if Dallas strikes out on signing a veteran wideout in free agency.