Cowboys’ commerce for WR Brandin Cooks completely matches group — and philosophy

Whether they heard the cries of out of doors critics or drummed the concept up all on their very own, the Dallas Cowboys are lastly embracing one of many NFL’s strongest market inefficiencies.

Sunday noticed their second main transfer of free company, as they traded with the Houston Texans to accumulate Brandin Cooks. The transfer value them the tiny whole of a 2023 fifth-round choose and a 2024 sixth-round choice.

This commerce simply comes just a few days after they shipped one other fifth-round choose in trade for former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

Both selections occupy a candy spot that enables the Cowboys to perform each of their targets. Neither commerce value them substantial draft capital, as it is a group that prefers to do the overwhelming majority of its group constructing in April — and is kind of good at it. At the identical time, a pair of confirmed veterans is way extra prone to make an influence for a group with playoff aspirations than whichever rookies would have been chosen late on Day 3 of the NFL draft.

Even the monetary finish appears manageable. Cooks has reportedly negotiated his deal to solely value the Cowboys $12 million in 2023 (the Texans can pay the remaining $6 million), whereas Gilmore has only one 12 months remaining on his deal at roughly $8 million.

Cooks fills what was beforehand the largest gap remaining on this roster. There was hypothesis that the Cowboys have been attempting to accumulate him from Houston again on the 2022 commerce deadline, so this could hardly come as a shock. But Cooks is the identify they’ve chosen out of a gaggle that additionally included Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins, because it’s laborious to think about both veteran touchdown right here now.

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Cooks’ profile is just not as excessive as the opposite two, however this was on no account a nasty choice. Formerly drafted No. 20 general by New Orleans, the 29-year-old has put up six 1,000-yard seasons throughout 9 years — and for 4 completely different franchises. 

He performed in back-to-back Super Bowls as a key member of each the Patriots and Rams, and he is been producing at a excessive stage throughout three years in Houston regardless of the Texans being one of many worst groups within the NFL throughout that stretch.

With pace as his calling card, Cooks is an ideal complement to the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup — each dependable receivers however missing in top-end pace. Cooks possesses big-play capability that was non-existent in Dallas final season, which mustn’t solely assist Dak Prescott, however all of his different receivers.

Less than one week into free company, we will simply name this the busiest and most efficient early offseason in latest Cowboys reminiscence. Not solely did they swing trades for 2 high quality starters, however they managed to re-sign each of their greatest in-house free brokers by securing Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch to new contracts.

Whatever holes stay of their roster can simply be addressed with small veteran signings and 2023 draft picks.

For a group that is been so notoriously stingy presently of 12 months, what is the distinction? Clearly the trades.

And the attractive factor is that they primarily value nothing. The Cowboys held three fifth-round draft picks in the beginning of the week — their very own, in addition to the 2 compensatory picks they acquired for shedding Randy Gregory and Connor Williams to free company final 12 months. Two trades later, they’re nonetheless sitting on a fifth-round choose. The value of buying two confirmed starters was a pair of picks they solely owned for per week, anyway.

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Dallas has gotten fairly good at this mannequin, too. Always preferring to concentrate on the draft, they are not afraid to let expensive veterans stroll, as they did with Connor McGovern final week, and as they’re going to presumably do with Dalton Schultz sooner or later throughout this free company window. It’s a stable wager they’re going to be working with a handful extra compensatory picks when the calendar turns to March subsequent 12 months.

That’s the place the inefficiency comes into play. Between groups in search of to get youthful and groups in search of to get cheaper, there are at all times going to be veterans accessible at a reduction. Just ask the Cowboys, who know all too properly the way it feels to obtain a fifth-round choose for a Pro Bowler, as they did with Amari Cooper simply final 12 months.

It’s an inefficiency that good groups profit from yearly. The Chiefs acquired Super Bowl hero Kadarius Toney for a third-round choose final October; the Eagles acquired league interception chief Chauncey Gardner-Johnson for a 2023 fifth and a 2024 sixth.

The Cowboys look poised to reap these advantages now. It’s intriguing so as to add Brandin Cooks to what was already one of many league’s finest offenses, however it may be much more intriguing to see what this implies for the team-building technique in Dallas shifting ahead.

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David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He beforehand spent 9 seasons masking the Cowboys for the group’s official web site. In 2018, he gained a regional Emmy for his function in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” concerning the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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