They value first round draft picks like gold bullion in the NFL. You understand why. Teams build their foundations around those first-day guys, a good percentage of whom wind up enshrined in Canton.
So for the Eagles to trade the 14th overall pick for disgruntled Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks seems far-fetched. But I’ve got three words for GM Howie Roseman:
Do it, Howie.
Trading for Cooks is eminently more sensible than chasing a wide receiver in free agency or drafting one on April 27. Here’s why:
- Cooks is proven. He’s fast (4.33 speed in the 40). He’s got good hands. He tracks the ball well. And he’s shown it. Only five NFL receivers surpassed 75 catches and 1,100 yards in each of the past two seasons: Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry – and Cooks.
- He’s young. Among free agent receivers, DeSean Jackson is 30. Pierre Garcon is 31. Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor are both 27. Cooks is still just 23 – younger, in fact than Carson Wentz, who should be throwing to him in 2017.
- He’s cheap . . .well, at least for now. Cooks stands to make $1.56 million in 2017, the last of his rookie contract. There’s a club option for 2018, which should run about $8 million. Given how tight the Eagles are to the cap right now, he’s a far more viable option than guys like Jeffery and Pryor, who will land long-term deals at $10-12 million a year.
Of course, the Eagles would want long-term certainty, because there’s no logic trading your first rounder for a guy who could walk away after two seasons. Roseman would have to insist on a contract extension as a condition of any trade.
As I said, trading your top pick isn’t easy. This draft is strong at receiver and even more loaded at cornerback, the Eagles’ other biggest need. Some of those kids who’ll be sprinting the Art Museum steps on draft night are going to turn into all-pros.
But others will wind up with careers like Freddy Mitchell (picked 25th) and Nelson Agholor (20th). That’s not meant just as a knock on the Eagles. Go back and study any NFL draft (I recommend 2013) and you’ll see what a crapshoot it all is.
The Patriots reportedly offered their first rounder, No. 32, for Cooks over the weekend. Bill Belichick is no one’s fool.
The Eagles' No. 14 pick, straight up, is pricey, so they should get something beyond Cooks in return. Since the Saints are seeking defensive help, perhaps Roseman can convince New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis to take LB Mychal Kendricks as part of the deal and grab back a third rounder.
A trade for Cooks, coupled with a few cuts this week, would leave the Eagles with enough under the cap to pursue helpful free agents. And the upcoming draft is so deep in the secondary that they could get help in the second and third rounds. It makes sense in every way.
Do it, Howie.