clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Look back: When Rams signed Brandin Cooks to a massive extension

What was being said at the time of the deal for the now-former Rams wideout?

NFL: JAN 31 Super Bowl LIII - Rams Press Conference Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On July 17, 2018, the Los Angeles Rams signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks to a five-year, $80 million contract extension. Up to that point, Cooks had not played for the Rams, having been acquired in the offseason for the 23rd pick in the draft. Cooks had posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots and had yet to turn 25.

“I’m excited and blessed to be here for the next 6 years,” said Cooks in an announcement posted by the team on Twitter. Less than two years from the anniversary, Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans for the 57th pick in the draft.

An undergrad degree. A presidential term. A person with a birthday on February 29th waiting between celebrations.

That’s the amount of time left before Cooks deal had been set to expire with the Rams.

Oh well. But what can we learn from the perspective of how Cooks’ extension was viewed at the time, on July 17, 2018? I think it’s a lesson in never planning a franchise’s future out too far. And even two years is often too far ahead.

Here at Turf Show Times, you can read the contract announcement and the 196 comments about it, most of which were understandably positive. The rest of the comments were about Aaron Donald, who had yet to be extended and was going to holdout through preseason. However, at least one commenter, LA Champ, was concerned about the deal and made a point that stands out as being quite astute today:

Much like Nick Foles

why the fuck did we do this now, and before this guy has played a damn down? His last game, he leaves with a concussion…imagine….and this is just devils advocate, but imagine his first game back, he’s knocked out with another???

Why not pay the guy that has put in work for THIS team?? Not just AD, but Saffold….or….Gurley…or….you know, Rams that have played well while Rams???

Posted by LA Champ on Jul 17, 2018 | 12:50 PM

Cooks did suffer multiple concussions in both seasons since the extension was signed. Rodger Saffold did not receive a new contract and left to play for the Tennessee Titans, leaving a sizable hole at guard. Todd Gurley did get his extension and whoops.

LA Champ got many “green’d” replies for his against-the-grain comment of concern but perhaps the most important to highlight is this one by SFC. (YFN) Harrison:

Well seeing that the Rams traded a 1st round pick for him

it was very important to lock him up long-term, especially when deals typically don’t get done in the regular season. For his production in his career a average of 16 million after this year which is good value for the position seeing that Watkins also got 16 per and Jarvis Landry got 15.1 per, I’ll rather have Cooks over both of them.

Plus Nick Foles wasn’t a bad player he was stuck behind a shitty offensive line, with no weapons, and Jeff Fisher as his head coach; in fact he was playing pretty damn good until he got injured.

Posted by SFC. (YFN) Harrison on Jul 17, 2018 | 1:02 PM

SFC is not wrong, but it’s interesting to think that a team masterlocks themselves into a major contract extension by giving up first round picks for players. They used a first on Gurley, and eventually gave him the biggest contract extension for a running back in history. They used multiple first round picks on Jared Goff, locked him up. They traded a first for Cooks, locked him up. Even in the case of Marcus Peters, they gave up a second and a fourth for him and a sixth, picked up his $9 million fifth year option, then had him for just 22 games.

And now they’ve got Jalen Ramsey and the same arguments are being made about him and the Rams: “If they don’t extend him, then the trade can’t possibly be worth it.”

The double edged sword is that you’ve got Ramsey, but by bypassing the first round for two years in order to acquire him, you don’t want to see him gone before the Jacksonville Jaguars even use the second of those two picks in 2021.

So.. I ask you fellow Rams fans ?

If you agree with me and If you are happy about our Owner Stan?..Its long overdue that we give him our love..If your with me than show me..Show Stan..

I want to see many recs..Not for me..but for our great owner..

Posted by The Ghost of Sepulveda on Jul 17, 2018 | 4:25 PM

It was overwhelmingly positive on TST and why shouldn’t it have been? The Rams gave up a first round pick, acquired a young and productive receiver, and secured his services beyond one year. The alternative? With the benefit of hindsight, it’s that Los Angeles could have acquired him, played him out through 2018, and given him the franchise tag in 2019. They might be in the same position of being sans Cooks right now but without all the dead money. This is hindsight though.

The response was also positive on Twitter.

(All of those players are now gone.)

(I like the idea of Cooks walking into the Rams facility and thinking to himself, “I will not sign a deal that pays me $80 million before I ever play with this team!”)

Here, Albert Breer points out how the Rams wanted to “avoid” a Sammy Watkins situation, in which they acquired Watkins for a second round pick and E.J. Gaines then let him walk in free agency one year later. This goes back to the earlier point of feeling trapped in a corner after you make a trade and hopefully Les Snead does not feel trapped after every trade he makes.

Also, look at these wide receiver deals now ...

During his first season with the Rams, Cooks delivered on what LA had ordered, catching 80 of 117 targets for a career-high 1,204 yards with five touchdowns. In the postseason, Cooks caught 19 of 27 passes for 292 yards, though he has yet to score a touchdown over his six career playoff games. He then suffered a concussion in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, his second of the year.

In the 2019 offseason and subsequent regular season, Cooks received $27.4 million. He suffered at least two more concussions en route to a 42-catch, 583-yard season with two touchdowns. And that will always be the one year he played with the Rams on the five-year extension they signed him to on July 17, 2018.

The lesson here is that hopefully the team is rarely making trades in which they feel “trapped” enough to sign that player to an extension at all costs. In the case of second round picks, they don’t seem to feel that pressure. With first round picks, it seems that the draft picks and contract compensation seem to go hand in hand.

The lesson for fans might be long-term expectations. Yes, Cooks fit the exact need at receiver that Sean McVay was looking for and yes he was exactly that player in his first year with the team, but this is not just a violent sport, it is a harsh business. Many believed that the team would have a trio of Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp for three seasons at least, but they were only teammates for two seasons and they were rarely all on the field at the same time and healthy at the same time.

The Rams probably should sign Ramsey to a contract extension and they probably should have signed Cooks to an extension too. Given their current cap situation and the moves they’ve now been forced to make as a reaction to previous moves, we will be left to wonder what the result would have been if they kept the pick and selected D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton, the next three receivers off the board after 23.

But that’s just hindsight.