Browns Eyeing Reunion with Deshaun Watson’s Trusted Receiver Brandin Cooks in Potential Offseason Trade
The Cleveland Browns, having recently bolstered their wide receiver corps with the acquisition of Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys, are now exploring the possibility of reuniting quarterback Deshaun Watson with another familiar target, Brandin Cooks. The potential trade, as suggested by Bleacher Report’s NFL Scouting Department, could address both teams’ needs and financial considerations.
Deshaun Watson has taken an active role in recruiting talent for the Browns, particularly targeting Cincinnati Bengals’ impending free agent wide receiver Tee Higgins. However, the feasibility of this move remains uncertain due to potential salary constraints and the need for Watson to agree to a pay cut. On the other hand, a trade with the Cowboys involving cooks could be a more viable option.
The NFL Scouting Department’s trade guide proposes Cooks as the Cowboys’ top trade asset and a prime target for the Browns. Cooks and Watson previously demonstrated a strong connection during their time together with the Houston Texans in 2020, making the reunion an enticing prospect for Cleveland. The suggested trade involves sending Cooks to the Browns in exchange for two fifth-round picks in 2024 (No. 134 overall) and 2025.
The financial implications for the Cowboys make this trade appealing. By trading Cooks after June 1, Dallas could save $8 million in 2024 and an additional $2 million in 2025. The Browns, having benefited from a previous trade with the Cowboys that brought them Amari Cooper, could once again capitalize on Dallas’ need to generate cap space.
Amari Cooper, initially considered a potential trade candidate by Bleacher Report, has proven his worth to the Browns, leading the team in receiving for two consecutive seasons and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2023. While his contract’s final year carries a hefty salary cap hit, extending the 29-year-old receiver emerges as a plausible option for Cleveland, allowing them to manage costs and maintain a key offensive asset.
The Browns’ offensive strategy is evolving, with a focus on pushing the ball downfield. Joe Flacco’s success in the latter part of the 2023 season has influenced this approach, and the addition of Cooks could further enhance their ability to stretch the field. Cooks, a seasoned NFL veteran, boasts six 1,000-plus-yard seasons and has recorded 57 career touchdown receptions. In 2020, playing alongside Watson, he hauled in 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 8 touchdowns, contributing to Watson’s league-leading passing performance.
However, the Browns face challenges on the salary cap front, with a deficit of $20.5 million in 2024, largely due to Watson’s substantial contract running through 2026. While Cooks’ potential trade cost remains a consideration, his contract, entering its final season with a cap hit of $10 million in 2024, adds another layer to the financial intricacies that Cleveland must navigate.
In conclusion, the prospect of reuniting Deshaun Watson with Brandin Cooks in a trade with the Cowboys presents an intriguing opportunity for the Cleveland Browns. Balancing financial constraints, considering the success of past trades with the Cowboys, and addressing the evolving offensive strategy, the Browns must carefully evaluate the potential benefits of this proposed deal. As the offseason unfolds, it remains to be seen whether this reunion will materialize and contribute to the Browns’ pursuit of postseason success, including their aspirations for a Super Bowl appearance.