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???
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.
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..
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.
Is it just me or did the #Rams trade for and lock up the guy (Brandin Cooks) they thought they were getting when they drafted Tavon Austin? This 2018 offense is going to be fun to watch. Dare I say GSOT-esque? https://t.co/rPw5BSF1UD— Mike Cahill (@FA_Cahill) July 19, 2018
Don’t forget the Rams got Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Brandin Cooks. https://t.co/3Q1LYdrfkD— Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels) July 18, 2018
(All of those players are now gone.)
Rams coach Sean McVay: "How fast is Brandin Cooks?"— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 17, 2018
Ass't HC Joe Barry: "Oh my god, wait 'til you see this -- Did you see the one he caught up that sideline?" https://t.co/3XztDOLlES
My controversial opinion that "Brandin Cooks is good" has been bolstered. https://t.co/Wc1bL7hbql— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) July 17, 2018
Brandin Cooks has been a durable, super-productive pro, deserves every $ he gets. His story also hi-lights importance of taking advantage of enviable NFL situations that can maximize your talent. Balls from Brees, Brady & now McVay’s O?!? Prime opportunities, made the most of ‘em— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) July 17, 2018
I wrote about how Brandin Cooks’ wild ride helps explain the value structure and motivations of the modern NFL. https://t.co/5oOEehxLnU— Robert Mays (@robertmays) July 19, 2018
Brandin Cooks said he knew the Rams had something special going on before he arrived in LA. He decided he wanted to sign a long term deal after stepping in the building and seeing the culture first hand.— LindseyThiry (@LindseyThiry) July 17, 2018
(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!”)
Getting Brandin Cooks done was important for the Rams, in avoiding what happened with Sammy Watkins last year. And he's one of a number of young stars the team will have to take care of over the next two years.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 17, 2018
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.
Brandin Cooks is in the last year of his contract. So is Aaron Donald. LaMarcus Joyner is on the franchise tag. Suh is on a one-year deal. Talib may no longer be worth his high salary. Gurley's and Peters' salaries skyrocket in 2019. Andrew Whitworth will turn 37 this year.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) April 3, 2018
Per source, here are the details on Brandin Cooks' new contract with the Rams.— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) July 24, 2018
Receives over $50m in the first three years, including a huge payday in 2019. He'll have enormous salary cap numbers in '19 and '20.
Obviously, Patriots weren't going to do this contract. pic.twitter.com/o9LukPQO6X
Also, look at these wide receiver deals now ...
2014 WR draft class getting paid:— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) July 17, 2018
Sammy Watkins: 3 yrs, $48M
Mike Evans: 5yrs, $82.5M
Brandin Cooks: 5yrs, $80M
Jarvis Landry: 5yrs, $75M
Davante Adams: 4yrs, $58M
Allen Robinson: 3yrs, $42M
Marqise Lee: 4yrs, $34M
Paul Richardson: 5yrs, $40M
--> OBJ: Still on rookie deal.
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.