The Los Angeles Rams have signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks to a five-year deal worth $80 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Rams traded for Cooks and a 4th round pick on April 3rd from the Patriots for a 1st round pick and a 6th round pick. This will be Cooks’ third team in three years, as he was traded from the Saints to the Patriots last offseason. The Rams wasted no time signing him long-term, as he would’ve been a free agent at the end of the year. So, was this a good deal for the Rams? Let’s explore.
Cooks, 24, put together a second straight consecutive 1000 yard season last year, with 1082 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns last year. He’s a premium deep threat and uses his elite speed and route running ability to get separation from corners. That’s all he does for the most part, as at 5’10’’, he’s not much of a red zone threat. He’s also struggled with drops, as he only had a 57% catch rate a season ago. He also only graded out as the #36 receiver from Pro Football Focus, which shows he may not be as valuable as his stats would indicate.
Cooks will be expected to take over as the #1 receiver for the Rams, who lost Sammy Watkins in free agency. Cooks adds nice balance to a group of possession receivers that Los Angeles has. He also will work well with quarterback Jared Goff, who has tremendous arm strength and is very accurate with the deep ball. Having running back Todd Gurley, a top three running back, also allows for the play action game to open up. If the play action game opens up, then the deep ball with Goff and Cooks could prove the be lethal. However, the same thing was also said about Sammy Watkins. Like Cooks, Watkins was supposed to give Goff the deep threat he needed. Instead, Watkins only had 593 yards and struggled to find a definitive role in head coach Sean McVay’s system. So while Cooks seems like a perfect fit on paper for the Rams, there is reason to be a little unsure if that will translate onto the field.
The $16 million a year Cooks will be making puts him as the 4th highest paid receiver. Remember this is the same guy who ranked as the 36th best receiver by Pro Football Focus. 36th? There’s a reason Cooks is on his third team in three years. It’s because he tends to be inconsistent and seems more valuable to a team than he actually is. The Rams have so much young talent that they will need to extend, such as defensive tackle Aaron Donald, corner back Marcus Peters, running back Todd Gurley, and quarterback Jared Goff. This is a risk that they couldn’t afford to make, and a risk that will hurt them severely long-term.
Brandin Cooks seems like a very productive receiver who is a perfect fit for the Rams. However, a similar player to Cooks in Sammy Watkins failed in this system, so there is no guarantee Cooks will succeed. The Rams should’ve at least seen how Cooks was able to fit with them before signing him to this extension. Now, they’ll have to pay for it long-term with little financial flexibility to sign their young stars to an extension.