It is okay to say it. The Dallas Cowboys are crushing free agency.
To be fair, the Cowboys have not signed a single outside free agent. As far as the transactions that are normally associated with this time of year, the Cowboys have only focused on their own, although to a great degree. At the time of this writing Dallas has (aside from tagging Tony Pollard and tendering Terence Steele) returned Donovan Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch, C.J. Goodwin and Cooper Rush. That is a lot to be happy about.
On top of their returnees though, the Cowboys have brought in some new blood by way of trade as opposed to free agency. In a move that seems like forever ago now, the Cowboys dealt the lower of their two fifth-round compensatory picks to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Stephon Gilmore, shocking the fanbase.
As we all woke up and made our coffee on Sunday morning, the Cowboys were dealing for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Dallas sent their original fifth-round pick this year (so they still have a compensatory one) and a sixth-round pick next year to the Houston Texans for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and there is a lot to be happy about.
At first glance there are some Cowboys fans who didn’t really feel their needle move over the Cooks deal because they wanted a bigger name.
The thing is, names aren’t everything.
Brandin Cooks has quietly been one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL over the last three years.
None of this is meant to disparage DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr. because they are both talented players in their own right. Ultimately the Cowboys seem to have felt that Cooks was the best decision from a cost standpoint, but the thing is he also makes enormous sense from a production one as well.
We know that Beckham missed all of last season due to a torn ACL suffered in Super Bowl LVI and that Hopkins has missed time recently, partly due to suspension, but those are all real factors that have to be considered to some extent.
Cooks has played in 44 games over the last three years which is obviously a majority of them. The reason that we are focusing on this three-year stretch is that it is Cooks’ entire tenure with the Houston Texans, which happened to only include one season of stable quarterback play.
Nevertheless, Cooks has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL in that span. There are only 17 wide receivers since 2020 who have had at least 2,800 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns to their name and he is one of them.
It is nice to see CeeDee Lamb also on this list (and Amari Cooper... but we are now over that thanks to this trade!) as it is sort of a who’s-who of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Again, Brandin Cooks is on the list.
Cooks ranks 13th of this group in terms of receptions so he has had some of the fewer opportunities to make it onto the list. The point isn’t to quibble about any tiny detail but to highlight that Cooks is indeed among the top wideouts in the league. While we should acknowledge the circumstances for which they aren’t, injuries and suspension, it is certainly worth noting that neither Beckham nor Hopkins are present or accounted for.
No one is acting like the Cowboys just landed the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL but they did just land one of the more productive and underrated players across the league and they did so for an extremely low cost.
This is a huge win. Props to the front office.