Several teams interested in Brandin Cooks trade

INDIANAPOLIS -- Brandon Cooks has a standing trade request, and the Texans are working through the process of trying to see if there’s a viable trade to move on from the veteran wide receiver, according to league sources.

Multiple AFC and NFC teams are interested in acquiring Cooks and respectful dialogue is ongoing between Cooks and the Texans, per sources.

No deal is imminent or developing at this time, but sources emphasized there’s plenty of interest in Cooks. He reiterated this offseason his desire to change teams and join a playoff contender after going 11-38-1 with the Texans over the past three seasons since being acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams. With several teams interested and the NFL scouting combine an ideal place to have those type of conversations, there’s optimism that groundwork can be established toward a potential offseason trade.

“I’d say we’re kind of in the team building process here,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said Tuesday morning. Every player, every individual situation we’ll look at it. Then, ultimately we’ll do what feels best for the team and the organization moving forward.”

Cooks is due $18 million guaranteed in 2023, so a potential deal would likely involve the Texans paying a large chunk of his salary. He caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Cooks walked onto the Texans’ practice field before the final game of the season, joining his teammates before pausing along his path to shake hands and hug Caserio days before the last game of the season Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

It was a friendly exchange between two men whose strong relationship and mutual respect goes back to their shared tenure with the New England Patriots. Cooks was nearly dealt at the NFL deadline, then missed one game against the Philadelphia Eagles for personal reasons stemming from his disappointment and frustration after not being traded to the Dallas Cowboys is expected to be worked on and, in all likelihood, accommodated this offseason.

“I think my agent and Nick and I, we have a good working relationship and, after this game, we’ll be able to discuss what the future looks like,” Cooks told KPRC 2 at the close of the season. “This situation, obviously has got to be a win-win for both sides. I think Nick understands that. We understand that. I think he’s trying to grow something here. As a guy going into Year 10 of my career, I want to be a part of a vision where everyone is on the same page and has a stable vision.

“That’s my hope as a player. As a player, I’ve worked too hard and seen too many different situations here. I know they’re trying to get it right and get it going. I know Nick has a big job in front of him. I think we’ll discuss it after the season. Both sides will have a good understanding.”

Ultimately, no deal could be worked out for Cooks to be traded. It was an extremely complicated situation due to financial reasons with Cooks’ $18 million guaranteed base salary in 2023 along with the Texans’ high asking price in terms of draft capital. The Texans, ideally, wanted a second-round draft pick and other compensation in exchange for Cooks, per league sources, and teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, wanted them to pay a large portion of his salary to make the trade work.

Cooks drew trade inquiries and interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys, according to league sources.

Acquired by the Texans from the Rams in a 2020 trade for a second-round draft pick, Cooks would tie Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson for the most trades involving an individual player in NFL history if he’s traded for a fourth time. The former New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick form Oregon State was previously traded to the Patriots and then the Rams before joining the Texans.

If the 3-13-1 Texans were built to compete and not facing so much uncertainty-deficiencies at key positions, Cooks acknowledged he would feel differently about the situation and how he fits into that dynamic.

“No doubt, that’s the kind of thing that would excite me,” Cooks said. “If the organization was stable in its approach and a stable operation, not just from a football standpoint, but from the every-day process. I do understand Nick is trying to build that. For me, it’s going to be important to already have that set. Not just for me, but for my family and feeling good about the situation.”

Signed to a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension last year, Cooks caught a career-high 90 passes in 2021 on 134 targets for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. In his first season with the Texans while playing with three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last offseason, Cooks caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns.

Cooks is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL with a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash. A former track standout growing up in Stockton, Calif., and in college, Cooks, said he knows he gave the Texans what he had. It’s unfortunate that didn’t translate into a longer tenure or more victories.

“In every way, I gave everything I had for three years,” Cooks said. “Regardless of the situation and a lot of things that was going on, I always worked my tail off and tried to be the best player and the best leader I can be.”

NFL Combine

Photo: Getty Images

Nick Caserio emphasizes 'good conversations' with Laremy Tunsil

By Aaron Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Laremy Tunsil has a detailed vision of building a strong personal legacy, a winning one that goes beyond how he routinely stonewalls the top pass rushers in the game.

There’s a hefty financial element and respect factor contained within Tunsil’s goals.

Tunsil wants to break new ground in the elite offensive tackle market and, once again, become the highest paid offensive tackle in NFL history. Originally signed to a three-year, $66 million contract after being acquired in a trade from the Miami Dolphins, Tunsil wants to top San Francisco 49ers star Trent Williams’ $23.01 million average with a blockbuster contract extension this offseason. Tunsil views himself as a valuable insurance policy who keeps the quarterback safe and standing. With quarterback salaries skyrocketing -- Aaron Rodgers ($50.3 million), Russell Wilson ($49 million), Kyler Murray ($46.1 million) and Deshaun Watson ($230 million fully guaranteed, $46 million average) -- the tackle market is also expected to keep rising. That could mean, if the Texans are amenable to writing a large check, to an expensive deal for Tunsil that could potentially fall into the $24 million to $25 million per year neighborhood.

Although Texans general manager Nick Caserio was noncommittal Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine on whether a lucrative contract extension is in the offing, he emphasized there’s been a respectful dialogue.

"Laremy’s been a good player in this league for a long time,” Caserio said. “He’s done a lot of good things for our team. I think each individual player, when the time comes, and it’s appropriate to have any conversations, we’ll go ahead and do that. A lot of respect for Laremy, we’ve had good conversations along the way.

“We’ll see how it goes here in the offseason, but Laremy has expressed his sentiments about wanting to be here in Houston. We’ll see if it works itself out the way everybody would like it to.”

There haven’t been any contract talks this offseason between Tunsil and the Texans, per league sources, who emphasized there’s mutual interest in working something out.

The Texans have $36.3 million in salary cap space in 2023, ranking fifth in the NFL. Tunsil has a $35.2 million salary cap figure, and that can be lowered through an extension by prorating his money and adding more years to amortize his salary cap impact.

The Texans also are contemplating whether they’ll work on an extension for right tackle Tytus Howard, who’s due a $13.2 million fifth-year option in the final year of the former first-round draft pick’s rookie contract.

Tunsil wants to help transform theTexans into a winning program and, one day, conclude his career with the AFC South franchise.

“I want to turn this program around,” Tunsil told KPRC 2 at the close of the season. “That’s what I want: to turn this organization around from a losing organization into a winning organization. I want to finish my career here in Houston.”

“That would mean a lot to me to reset the market,” Tunsil said. “Absolutely, you have to have insurance. You have to protect the quarterback. You have to pay left tackles.”

Tunsil, who doesn’t have an agent and helped negotiate his original contract with the Texans with the advice and counsel of advisors Saint Omni and Laolu Sanni, hopes to talk with Caserio to get the conversation started toward this offseason goal.

“Plant the seed and see where we go from here,” Tunsil said.

Tunsil was the highest graded pass blocker in the NFL with a 90.9 Pro Football Focus analytics grade. The former Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick from Mississippi allowed just one sack all season, and that was in the first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts.

Named to the Pro Bowl again, Tunsil expressed confidence in his game and where he stacks up around the league.

“Don’t doubt me,” he said. “That was the main thing that motivated me the whole entire season. They see that I’m LT1. They see I’m the best left tackle in the league.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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