Brandin Cooks recently tweeted two words that could be the first in his moves to push his way out of the suddenly re-building Rams organization. If you follow Brandin Cooks on Twitter he has always been a mildly interesting follow. Often in his early days with the Saints simply posting Bible verses or interesting and inspiring quotes. Generally you simply do not find headlines on the Brandin Cooks' timeline. However, these are unprecedented times in America, and around the world. There are no sports currently being played, so tweets make headlines incredibly fast, and Brandin Cooks delivered one today, by simply posting, "Free Me". Now the questions abound. What does that mean? Is he asking for a release? Can the Rams release him, like they did Todd Gurley? Where would he go if he's released? There are a lot of questions, and while we could be reaching, I'll admit that, lets explore the possibilities.
When Brandin Cooks was coming out of Oregon State he was one of the most electrifying talents in the 2014 draft. He was shifty, he was elusive, he was quick, he had burners, and even after burners in the open field. As a Saints fan, I was elated to have such a weapon drafted with the 20th pick in the 1st Rd of that epic 2014 class. It took him some time to get going, but once he did he lit up the Super Dome in New Orleans with 2 straight 1,100 plus yard seasons, after his rookie year. However, He was still never truly considered a number one wide receiver in New Orleans by fans. As productive as he was, when Michael Thomas arrived there seemed to be a clear difference between production and dominance. New Orleans also couldn’t truly capitalize on his productivity at the time, because though the offense was incredibly explosive, the Saints boasted one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Cooks also had a real problem with not getting the ball enough in an offense that featured three young talented receivers in Cooks, Willie Snead, and Micheal Thomas. In 2016, the Saints defense was horrible, but the 2017 NFL Draft would change that for the team and, in turn, change the trajectory of the Saints franchise for the following three seasons. If Cooks were a little more patient, he could have been a part of a young and epic wide receiver crops. To the contrary, He often had run-ins with coach Sean Payton about ball distribution, saying quote, "Closed mouths, don't get fed", and his attitude made him a candidate to be shipped off to the New England Patriots. This proved to be a less than spectacular move for the Saints, in terms of talent at the wide receiver position. Though some would argue that it led to the drafting of Ryan Ramczyk, one of the league's elite Right Tackles, they simply haven’t been able find a wide receiver outside of Michael Thomas, with Cooks' elite ability. Cooks, on the other hand has consistently struggled to find a city, or a team rather, that loves him, and one he can call home. However, to say he hasn’t found success outside of New Orleans would be a foolish choice of words. Since leaving the Saints, Cooks has had two more 1,100 plus yard seasons, exceeding 1,200 in 2018, and has made two Super Bowl appearances. He made his first appearance with the Patriots in 2017 in a losing effort against the Philadelphia Eagles, and then , after being traded , the following year he made an appearance with the Los Angeles Rams in a losing effort versus the New England Patriots. However, two trips to the promise land in three years after being traded away from New Orleans is pretty successful.
With that being said, regardless to the amount of success Cooks experiences, he simply can’t seem to find a place in the NFL he can call a permanent home. Now going into his 7th NFL season he is one of the most talented and productive NFL players to have played on three different teams in 6 seasons. Most NFL teams like to hold on to his type of talent, but that hasn’t been the case with Brandin Cooks. Cooks has been traded twice and even now finds himself in constant trade rumors. With his latest tweet, He looks to be on the move again. Cooks tweet he simply said “Free Me”. That could mean several things from “Please, let me out of this house, I am exhausted with this social distancing, and quarantine time”, which I’m sure we are all feeling, to "I want to be released from this team". Based on the trade rumors and the moves the Rams have made recently, one would not be wrong in assuming that the 7th year veteran receiver wants to be a free agent for the first time in his career, and be allowed to choose his next location.
The Rams have been rumored to be in trade talks with a few teams, one being the New Orleans Saints, but that talk has since died down with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints roster. So where would Cooks go if the Rams decided to release him or trade him? One close option would be the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders would be good landing spot for Cooks, they are in desperate need of some veteran leadership and speed in their receiving crops and Las Vegas is not too far from LA. Secondly, The Seattle Seahawks, they could pair Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf with the speedy Cooks to form a scary offensive unit. On another note, when Cooks first came to the league he spent a lot of time working out with Antonio Brown. If Tom Brady loves Brown's work ethic he may feel the same way about Cooks. Could a Cooks-Brady reunion be possible? Though, rumor has it Tom Brady was not too sad about Cooks departure from New England. Take that rumor, however you like. The Philadelphia Eagles make another intriguing option, their fan base is clamoring for wide receiver help, and a healthy speedy Cooks paired with a strong-armed Carson Wentz could be an explosive pairing. If you recall what Wentz did early last season with a healthy DeSean Jackson, a Cooks pairing could be huge for the NFC East champions. Lastly, "How Bout Dem' Cowboys". The Dallas Cowboys could be an exciting option as well, they were in the Emmanuel Sanders sweepstakes and depending on the pay Cooks is looking for, he could be a great replacement for the lost of Randall Cobb.
If Cooks were released by the Rams, there are a few things complicating the matter with a team be able to sign Cooks. Cooks has suffered four concussions since 2018, that alone has him on the concussion watch-list, and could make it quite risky for teams. Last season doctors warned Cooks that one more direct hit to his head could significantly damage his ability to play football in the future. Cooks did however, return and finished with just under 600 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Brandin Cooks is a very talented receiver and the off-season and time away could make him a less concerning option for teams. However, with all the current restrictions, teams may find it hard to get a medical exam that they trust, prior to making a huge investment in him.
Cooks is not scheduled to be a free agent until 2024 and his 2020 salary became guaranteed on March 20th, according to Spotrac.com . He also comes along with a $16M cap hit for the Rams, so releasing him may not be a move the Rams make this off-season. However, they may have shown too much of their hand and Cooks may pull a move similar to the one he pulled in New Orleans and force his way out. If “Free Me” means what we think it does, the wheels may already to be in motion.