As a source close to the Canal Street Chronicle informed Editor John Hendrix today, the Saints turned down an offer that would have brought the Tennessee Titans 18th pick in the 1st round of the NFL draft to the Big Easy in exchange for WR Brandin Cooks.
While this move has shocked many fans around the NFL, if you’re New Orleans it makes sense. Both Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have been on record as saying in recent weeks that it would take a pretty significant deal to send Cooks anywhere. While the 18th pick in the draft is a “good” deal it doesn’t qualify as “great”.
To determine what is great, we have to determine his value. If we use the 18th pick as a point of reference it is worth 900 points according to the Draft Trade Chart. Cooks was selected in 2014 with the 20th pick in the 1st round, but it also cost the Saints their 3rd round pick which was the 91st selection to trade from the 27th spot to the 2th. Together, those picks equal out to 986 points.
Whether you trust the Draft Trade Chart or not, the 18th overall pick can be seen as a good trade, but it’s not a great trade. Sean Payton had this to say during an interview with the team’s website, “I’m comfortable with him in a Saints uniform. It would have to be something real significant.”
Something else to be considered is how the free agent market is currently paying wide receivers more than originally expected. Pierre Garcon is reportedly about to sign with the San Francisco 49ers making 16 million his first season. Garcon has never had a three year stretch as productive as Cooks has his first three years in the NFL.
DeSean Jackson is currently being courted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for an estimate of over $10 million a year. Both players are in their 30s and costing teams double digit millions to keep for their services. Cooks has one year remaining on his rookie contract and has a fifth year options teams can pick up.
Not only does trading for Brandin Cooks give arguably the best flanker in the NFL right now, but it gives them a premier talent with two years of rookie salary left to pay before he demands the big pay day he wants.
With all of these variables in mind, coupled with the Saints front office saying it could take a combination of picks and/or “defensive help” to get a deal done, New Orleans could be holding Cooks’ value as high as the 10th pick in the draft. While there are only a handful of people who truly know what it will take to get Cooks out of New Orleans that value seems higher than originally predicted.
Mickey Loomis told John DeShazier that it would take “an awful lot” to trade Cooks to any team this offseason. If you’re New Orleans, and all deals fall through, the worst thing that happens is Cooks plays for you next year. Certainly not the worst case of scenarios.