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The Philadelphia Eagles Should Trade Their First Round Pick for Brandin Cooks

Updated on March 7, 2017

This may not be a popular opinion, but I think the Philadelphia Eagles should trade whatever it takes to get WR Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints.

I know what you're thinking. Giving up a first round draft pick is insane. Especially a pick as high as 14th overall. To that I say, have you been paying attention?

There are many reasons why the Eagles should be perfectly willing to give up the 14th pick in the upcoming NFL Draft for a player like Cooks. Let's start with the obvious fact that Cooks is exactly what the team needs.

WR Brandin Cooks is exactly what the Philadelphia Eagles need
WR Brandin Cooks is exactly what the Philadelphia Eagles need

Cooks has elite speed to get downfield, which is something the Eagles currently do not have among the receivers on their roster. But Cooks is more than just a one-trick pony. He is a legitimate No. 1 WR. After three seasons in the NFL, he has 215 receptions for 2,861 yards (13.3 ypc) with 20 TDs.

In 10 games as a rookie, Cooks had 53 receptions for 550 yards and 3 TDs. He improved to 84-1,138-9 in his second season and 78-1,173-8 last season. To put that in proper perspective, only Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, Jr. had better stats than Cooks (162 receptions for 2,311 yards and 17 TDs) over the last two seasons. If you don't think those stats are worth the 14th pick in the NFL draft then you can just stop reading now. There is no rational argument I can make to convince you to listen to common sense.

Philadelphia Eagles GM(?) Howie Roseman
Philadelphia Eagles GM(?) Howie Roseman

The next thing to consider is who exactly will be making the Eagles pick at 14. That would be none other than Whatever his title is don't call him GM Howie Roseman. If you want to tell me that the Eagles hired Joe Douglas to run the draft, I will point out that Roseman has confirmed that he will have final say over every draft pick. They can use whatever buzz words they want, like collaborative process, but when the clock is ticking down during the draft, Roseman will be the one pulling the trigger. Are you comfortable with that? I'm not.

To review, here are a few of Roseman's greatest hits on first round picks. In 2014 Roseman picked DE Marcus Smith 26th overall, even though the rest of the NFL had a third round grade on him. In 2011, he drafted fireman Danny Watkins 23rd overall. And in 2010, Roseman traded up to 13th overall to take DE Brandon Graham, when perennial All-Pro safety Earl Thomas was still on the board. To be fair, Roseman got RT Lane Johnson 3th overall in 2013 and DT Fletcher Cox 12th overall in 2012. But I still don't trust him to find a great player in the draft.

Former Eagles (and Roseman) first round pick Danny Watkins is now literally a fireman
Former Eagles (and Roseman) first round pick Danny Watkins is now literally a fireman

You also have to consider that the Eagles have actually spent quite a few high draft picks on WRs in recent drafts. Nelson Agholor was a 1st round pick in 2015 (Chip Kelly's fault actually), Jordan Matthews was a 2nd round pick and Josh Huff was a 3rd round pick in 2014. Matthews is a decent No. 2 WR, but there are now rumors that the Eagles are shopping him around because they don't want to give him a big contract when his rookie deal expires after this coming season.

If you would rather take a younger receiver to grow with Carson Wentz, then Cooks is still the guy to target. In spite of being an established No. 1 WR in the NFL over the last three seasons, Cooks is only 23 years old. The top three WRs in the NFL Draft; Mike Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross are all 22 years old. And there is absolutely no guarantee that any of those WRs, or any other WR in this draft, will be any good, let alone great (See: Agholor, Nelson)

You want to draft a CB with that first pick and just sign a WR in free agency? Two problems there. There aren't any free agent receivers who are as good as Cooks and only three teams in the NFL have less money under the salary cap than the Eagles.

Should the Eagles trade their first round pick (#14) for Brandin Cooks?

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Let's start with the money first, because that's important. The latest figures I saw from the NFLPA have the Eagles with only $8.4 million available under the cap and some of that will be needed to sign their draft picks. Sure, they will make roster cuts to get rid of some big contracts, but then they will have to replace those players, which will still cost a few bucks. Even if the Eagles get rid of Connor Barwin, Ryan Mathews and say Mychal Kendricks, they will still only have around $20m to spend.

In case you're wondering, the Browns have the most cap space with $104 million, followed by the 49ers at $90m. If you think it's just the bad teams that have a lot of cap space, I have some bad news for you. The Patriots have $62m, the Broncos have $42m and the Packers have $40m. Thanks to horrible Chip Kelly signings and Roseman breaking the bank to keep Cox, Johnson and Vinnie Curry, the Eagles are in salary cap hell for at least another year or two.

NFL Cap Room, By Team

 
(In millions)
 
Cleveland Browns
$104.1
 
San Francisco 49ers
$90.6
 
Jacksonville Jaguars
$67.6
 
Tamp Bay Buccaneers
$66.1
 
New England Patriots
$61.9
 
Tennessee Titans
$61.5
 
Indianapolis Colts
$52.9
 
Chicago Bears
$51.3
 
Denver Broncos
$42.1
 
Cincinnati Bengals
$41.9
 
Oakland Raiders
$41.4
 
Miami Dolphins
$41.1
 
Washington Redskins
$34.4
 
Carolina Panthers
$32.5
 
Detroit Lions
$31.1
 
New Orleans Saints
$27.4
 
Seattle Seahawks
$25.9
 
New York Jets
$24.4
 
Houston Texans
$23.5
 
Loas Angeles Rams
$19.9
 
Pittsburgh Steelers
$18.6
 
Arizona Cardinals
$16.9
 
Buffalo Bills
$15.6
 
Atlanta Falcons
$15.3
 
Baltimore Ravens
$13.8
 
New York Giants
$13.1
 
Philadelphia Eagles
$8.5
 
Los Angeles Chargers
$5.1
 
Kansas City Chiefs
$4.8
 
Dallas Cowboys
$3.3
 

Now let's look at the best available free agent WRs. Alshon Jeffery is undoubtedly a stud. He's also one more failed drug test away from a one-year suspension. It's probably not a good idea for he and Lane Johnson to hang out, don't you think. Jeffery has also only played 16 games twice in his five-year career. He's also going to want to be paid among the top WRs in the NFL. DeSean Jackson would be a nice story, but he also wants big bucks and he's already 30. Why sign a WR who will be way past his prime by the time Wentz puts it all together and the Eagles are ready to make a run? Kenny Stills is intriguing, but he really isn't proven. Terrell Pryor is going to get paid top dollar after one good season at WR. The Eagles can't afford him. Period. Kenny Brit, Pierre Garcon, Tory Smith? They might upgrade the pitiful group of WRs who took the field last season for the Eagles, but they aren't difference-makers.

Brandin Cooks is a difference-maker.

Free Agent WR Alshon Jeffery is Probably out of the Eagles' price range
Free Agent WR Alshon Jeffery is Probably out of the Eagles' price range

The last argument I'm sure someone will have against trading for Cooks is that he'll cost more than a rookie WR. While that's true for the future, Cooks would only be a $2.67 million cap hit for 2017. Cooks has a fifth-year option in his rookie deal for $8.5 million, which would still be much cheaper than what Jeffery and Pryor will probably get. Most of those other free agent WRs will all get around that too. Sure, the Eagles would have to break the bank to keep Cooks beyond 2018, but isn't that what you want? Don't you want your players to be great, which means you have to pay them top dollar to keep them? Unless the past three years have been a mirage, the Eagles will have a 25 year-old WR who is coming off of four straight 1,000-yard seasons. Sign me up for that problem.

I know most people think giving up a first round pick for Brandin Cooks is too much, but personally, I think he's well worth the price. Maybe Roseman can work his magic and get Cooks for a 2nd rounder and other picks and/or players. After everything he did to get up to No. 2 last year to get Wentz, it would be foolish to doubt his ability to swing a trade for the Eagles.

Let me leave you with one final point that I'm sure will convince you to agree with me that Brandin Cooks is worth the No. 14 pick in the NFL Draft. Remember that the Eagles got that pick from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Sam Bradford. Now tell me there is a single person on the planet who wouldn't trade Sam Bradford for Brandin Cooks, straight up.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

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