Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Eagles Need to Trade for Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks | Philadelphia Eagles Trade Target Yoshi Stabber via Flickr

NFL

Could Brandon Graham help the Eagles land the weapon they need?


Potential Targets

The Eagles have been rumored to be in the market for a veteran wide receiver. The goal is to bring second-year quarterback, Carson Wentz, weapons. Recently, two names have been linked to the team in particular; Alshon Jeffery and Brandin Cooks. The Tenneessee Titans may have something to say in either case.

Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery, 27, is a 6’3 218 pound weapon. In his 5 seasons with the Bears, Jeffery has 304 catches, 4,549 yards, and 26 touchdowns. Alshon’s best two seasons came with Eagles new wide receiver coach, Mike Groh. With Groh, Alshon saw a 1,400 yard season in 2013 and an 1,100 yard season, which included a career-high 10 touchdowns in 2014. However, it is worth noting that both seasons featured Brandon Marshall on the other side, Matt Forte in the backfield, and Martellus Bennett at tight end. Jeffery is a slow-twitch wide receiver whom thrives on using his big frame to make catches. He can be a human highlight real, often coming down with contested passes.

Jeffery is expected to hit the free agent market come March 9th. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jeffery could draw a contract offer of  16 million per year. The Eagles currently sit at 8.7 million under the salary cap according to Overthecap.com. While the Eagles could release or trade some players, 29 teams have more salary cap room. The Tennessee Titans are one of them. Josina Anderson reported that the Titans are also interested in Jeffery. The Titans also have an emerging offense, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, and 61 million in cap room. The Titans can easily throw a stick in the spokes of the Eagles free agency plans for Jeffery.

Brandin Cooks

While Jeffery may be the slow-twitch redzone threat, Brandin Cooks is a fast-twitch playmaker. Cooks, 23, is coming off back-to-back 1,100 yard seasons, both with at least 8 touchdowns. Cooks, 5’10, 189 pound felt misused in New Orleans in 2016 and is apparently the “driving force behind the trade”, according the Matt Miller @NFLDraftScout on twitter. 2016 second-round pick, Michael Thomas finished his rookie season with 92 catches, 1,100 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Willie Snead added almost another 900 yards. The Saints offense may not need Brandin Cooks on offense. They have been very open about the need to find a pass rusher. http://www.espn.com/blog/new-orleans-saints/post/_/id/25512/saints-sean-payton-weve-got-to-find-a-pass-rusher

Potential Trade:

The Saints, according to Ian Rapoport want a first round pick for Cooks. The Titans, like the free agent market, also hold the cards in the trade market. They have 2 first-round picks (5 and 18) and 3 third-round picks. They do not have a second-round pick. The Eagles cannot compete with draft picks as they only have one pick in each of the first 3 rounds, but two in the 4th round. Knowing the Saints are looking for pass-rushing help, many believe Connor Barwin, 30, or Mychal Kendricks, 26, are the players that may be shipped out of Philadelphia. Trading Barwin would net the Eagles over 7 million in cap space. Kendricks would save the Eagles 1.8 million, but carry a dead-cap hit of 4.8 million, according to Overthecap.com.

A name nobody is talking about, and my fellow Eagles fans may kill me for mentioning is Brandon Graham. Face it, the Philadelphia Eagles are not going to out-bid the Titans when it comes to draft picks. It would not be smart to trade a first-round pick for Cooks, especially with the NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Think of business. Graham, 28, is in the second-to-last year of his contract. He is regarded around the NFL as a premier pass-rusher, and he may price out of the Eagles range in 2 years. Trading Graham will save the Eagles 5 million in salary cap this year, while eating 2 million in dead cap.

I personally love Brandon Graham. He is elite when it comes to rushing the passer.  He was rated by Pro Football Focus as the second-best edge defender in the NFL. Graham may have been 53rd in sacks, but he was number one in quarterback hurries with 40. I do not wish to trade Graham, but I would not be surprised to see his name if the Eagles get into a bidding war for Cooks. Fans may get caught in the moment with Graham, but he will be 29 this season. How much longer will he maintain his level of play? It is a valid question for the future of the franchise. Furthermore, this is a very deep draft at defensive end. If Graham is dealt, the Eagles can find an immediate pass rusher in late April because they would be keeping their draft picks in hand.

Trading for Cooks will give Carson Wentz an immediate weapon. Brandin Cooks is only 23, 9 months younger than Carson Wentz. He fits the mold of the “building with youth” philosophy. The Eagles coveted Cooks in the 2014 NFL draft, but the Saints jumped the Eagles in order and took him two spots before the Eagles selected.

Get Carson a Weapon

The Eagles need to make a deal for a wide-receiver. Alshon Jeffery would give them an immediate “go up and get it” receiver, but his price may deter a cap-strapped Eagles team. Cooks is the guy that they should go and get. He is 23, I cannot say that enough. He would be under contract this season, with an option for 2018, said to be around 8.5 million. That option is still almost half of what Jeffery is allegedly commanding yearly. Trading for Cooks will allow the Eagles to fill other holes in free agency. He is coming off back-to-back 1,100 yard seasons with over 8 touchdowns in each. His catch percentage over his career has been 76, 65, 66 percent. Yes, that was with Drew Brees, but Cooks fits the west-coast offense mold. He thrives on open field catches, while having the ability to stretch the field.

The Titans control the wide receiver market for the entire NFL. Having 61 million in open cap space gives them the ability to throw money at Alshon Jeffery. Money the Eagles just wont be able to match. Holding 2 first-round picks, the Titans can out-bid just about every team that comes into play for Brandin Cooks. That is why the Eagles need to make the deal the Titans just cannot. Trading Brandon Graham to the Saints will give New Orleans just what they desire, an elite pass-rusher. It will give the Eagles just what they want, a young-dynamic wide receiver, while keeping their draft picks. Let the Titans pay the big money for Jeffery. The Eagles will save millions in the next two seasons. Millions that they can use to fill other needs and build a powerhouse in the NFC.