Proposed Trade Sends Steelers Former First-Round WR

Mike Tomlin

Getty A proposed trade sent head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers a wide receiver who was formerly a first-round pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dealt away a wide receiver at the NFL trade deadline this season. But one analyst predicted on December 21 that the Steelers could add to their wideout room with another trade during the offseason.

Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey proposed the Steelers trading for Houston veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

“Any team with a wide receiver need should check in on Brandin Cooks’ status with the Houston Texans,” wrote Tansey.

“Houston may be willing to offload one of its veteran assets as it continues yet another rebuild.

“The Steelers have a decent one-two combination of Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, but they could use added depth at wide receiver.”


How Cooks Could Fit With Steelers

Cooks has been a bit of a journeyman in his NFL career from the sense that he’s played with a lot of different teams. In nine seasons, the 29-year-old receiver has played for four different organizations. None of those teams have kept him for longer than three seasons.

Even though he’s bounced around, Cooks has recorded six 1,000-yard campaigns in his career. That includes the 1,037 receiving yards with 6 touchdowns he posted last season.

When he broke into the NFL, Cooks’ speciality was vertical routes and making plays down field. Cooks averaged 15.5 yards per reception with 20 touchdowns from 2016-18 while playing for three different teams.

He’s not quite the speedster he once was, and his yards per catch average has dropped. But Cooks is still a quality receiver.

This season, he’s registered 44 catches, 520 receiving yards with a touchdown. While those are modest numbers compared to his career standards, Cooks still leads the Texans in receptions and receiving yards.

Although he will turn 30 next September, Cooks would be a quality addition to Pittsburgh’s pass catchers. His veteran presence could be useful as well in the Steelers receiver room, who’s elder statesman is Johnson at 26 years old.

Tansey proposed the Steelers sending a third and seventh-round pick to Houston for Cooks.


Obstacles to Steelers Acquiring Cooks

The Steelers should be willing to depart with the trade compensation Tansey proposed. Pittsburgh sent receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears at the trade deadline for a second-round pick, which is currently the No. 33 selection in the 2023 NFL draft.

Adding a new receiver for less compensation than what the Steelers received for Claypool would be a strong move.

But there are potentially a couple other obstacles to the Steelers adding Cooks.

Spotrac reported Cooks will count as a $26.6 million cap hit in 2023. Tansey noted that Cook’s contract could be a “hindrance on Pittsburgh’s potential interest.”

In all likelihood, for the trade to happen, the Texans will have to keep some of Cooks’ salary or the Steelers will have to immediately rework Cooks’ deal to be more team-friendly or both.

The other issue is Pickens. The rookie wideout has shown flashes of stardom in 2022, and the Steelers shouldn’t make any moves that are going to stunt his growth.

If the Steelers add a veteran receiver this offseason, it should be a player who compliments Johnson and Pickens. A wideout who can play in the slot would be the best fit.

Cooks was an outside receiver early in his career, but he has played in the slot a lot with the Texans the last few years. Cooks would have to be a permanent slot receiver to be the best fit for the Steelers.

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