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The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers behind CeeDee Lamb last year were disappointing, to say the least. In order for Dak Prescott to succeed and the Cowboys to advance past the Divisional Round, they need a better WR2. That’s why the Brandin Cooks trade with the Houston Texans was so good. He is a massive upgrade at the position, and the Brandin Cooks contract is easy to get out of if things don’t work out.

The Brandin Cooks contract is essentially a one-year deal

Brandin Cooks contract, Brandin Cooks trade, Brandin Cooks, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
Brandin Cooks | Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2018, well-traveled veteran wideout Brandin Cooks signed a five-year $80 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams. Less than two years later, the Rams traded Cooks to the Houston Texans.

After two seasons in Houston, the Texans offered a new Brandin Cooks contract extension to lessen his cap hit. In 2022, the former New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots pass-catcher signed a two-year, $39,764,000 contract with a $16,000,000 signing bonus, $36,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual value (AAV) of $19,882,000, per Spotrac.

With the Texans floundering at the bottom of the NFL after the Deshaun Watson trade, the team flirted with trading the unhappy WR at the 2022 NFL trade deadline.

A deal never materialized then, but in the 2023 NFL offseason, the Texans finally found a partner and made a Brandin Cooks trade with the Cowboys. Dallas sent a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick 230 miles southeast to Houston for Cooks.

After the trade, the Brandin Cooks contract leaves behind $22,220,740 in dead cap for the Texans next season.

For the Cowboys, Cooks brings a base salary of $12,000,000 and a $352,932 roster bonus for a $12,352,932 cap hit with $12,000,000 in dead cap. If the WR doesn’t pan out in 2023, Cook has a $13,000,000 base and a $3,500,000 roster bonus in 2024 for a $16,500,000 cap hit. But with zero dead cap, the team can release him with no salary cap implications.

Why the Brandin Cooks trade is so good for the Cowboys

In 2022, CeeDee Lamb made 107 catches for 1,359 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Noah Brown was the next-best WR on the Cowboys with 43 grabs, 555 yards, and three touchdowns. Michael Gallup was WR3 with 39 receptions, 424 yards, and four TDs. Finally, T.Y. Hilton, a late-season signing, was WR4 with seven catches for 121 yards.

The point is, the WRs behind Lamb gave Dak Prescott and the Cowboys very little last season. Sure, the team could draft a player they hope becomes a true No. 2, but the WR class in the 2023 NFL Draft isn’t that strong this year.

Enter Cooks, who is an excellent WR2 when healthy.

In nine seasons, Cooks has 630 catches for 8,616 yards and 49 TDs. He’s also gone over 60 catches and 1,000 yards in six of those nine seasons.

The 29-year-old 2014 No. 20 overall pick has never truly become a No. 1 receiver, but next to CeeDee Lamb in 2023, he should flourish. And if not, the Cowboys can dump the Brandin Cooks contract the next offseason and only be out two late-round picks.

That’s why this Brandin Cooks trade is such a good move for the Cowboys.  

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