What has gotten into the Dallas Cowboys? Two financially responsible trades to get proven talent in exchange for minimal draft capital in less than a week? After trading this year’s fifth-round and next year’s sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, I don’t know who these guys are anymore.
Quite frankly, it’s a stunning about-face from an ownership group reluctant to seek external resources for help. Fans have been clamoring for the team to be more aggressive for part of the last decade and met with every excuse as to why it wasn’t feasible. The fanbase has to be pleasantly surprised at this change of course.
Dak Prescott recently spoke with the media and said, “It’s now or never” He must’ve been speaking vicariously through the front office to change its ways and demonstrate a sense of urgency. Trading for Cooks, and addressing a glaring area of need before the draft, is being proactive versus reactive. Making this trade improves a roster that many feel is on the cusp of being a true title contender.
Cooks will fit seamlessly into the Cowboys’ offense. Like CeeDee Lamb, Cooks can play in any of the receiver spots. Last season for the Texans, Cooks lined up in the slot nearly 40% of the time. Having that flexibility allows the Cowboys to be more diverse in their personnel groupings and can use Lamb and Cooks almost interchangeably.
With Cooks in tow, the Cowboys avoid the problem of becoming predictable in their passing game. When you add Tony Pollard to that passing combination, Dak Prescott has a more varied arsenal. Michael Gallup makes spectacular sideline catches, Cooks is the speed threat, Pollard can hit the home run out of the backfield, and Lamb can do it all. Dallas has most of their passing game bases covered. That’s without discussing their promising options at tight end.
By adding Cooks, a Cowboys offense that was one playmaker short from vying for an NFC title, if not more, appears primed to take a step forward. Combine this offense, which still isn’t done adding components, with a premier defense led by Dan Quinn, and there’s reason to believe this team can contend.
After evaluating Cooks’ contract, it’s a great decision by the front office. Cooks will account for a cap charge of 18M this year and 13M next year. However, the Texans have already agreed to pay 6M of that cap cost this season. Having Cooks under contract for two years at an average cost of 12.5M is a bargain when you examine the market cost for wide receivers.
Jakobi Meyers and Allen Lazard each recently signed free-agent contracts for an average of 11M per season. Neither of them has posted a 1,000-yard season in their careers. Cooks has six of them. Once again, Cooks is a highly productive player that’s better and negligibly more expensive than the top of the free agent market at wide receiver.
Couple this trade with the trade they made for Stephon Gilmore, and this team is showing they are capable of making calculated moves that the best teams do. The Cowboys are one of the league’s best at drafting in the first round and finding contributors in the late portion of the draft or in the undrafted free-agent pool.
BRANDIN COOKS FILM STUDY (this won't take long). Six plays from the last 18 months that should tell you all you need.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) March 19, 2023
A little drag that matches you up with a LB and the juice. pic.twitter.com/SdaMQWLjXw
After these last two trades, they can take more of a best player available approach with their first pick in this year’s draft. The Cowboys have set themselves up perfectly for the rest of the offseason.