The Houston Texans are at it again. What is becoming one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports has had a continuous fire-sale of their top starters over the last few years.
In their latest move, Houston traded starting WR Randall Cobb to the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, receiving a sixth-round draft choice in return.
Cobb, who played the first eight years of his career for the Packers, joyously tweeted that he was ‘‘going home''.
The New Orleans Saints have major questions at their wide receiver position. All-Pro WR Michael Thomas will miss at least half the year after ankle surgery in June.
In news released on Thursday, All-Pro kick returner Deonte Harris was arrested this offseason for driving under the influence.
No punishment from the league against Harris has been announced. However, such transgressions have previously resulted in a two-game suspension for players.
A suspension of Harris would leave second-year WR Marquez Callaway and veteran Tre'Quan Smith as the only significant contributors for the team at the position.
New Orleans signed veteran free-agent receiver Chris Hogan on Tuesday. Undrafted players such as Jalen McCleskey, Juwan Johnson, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, and rookie seventh-round pick Kawaan Baker were already in the mix for roster spots.
The Saints could look at other free-agent agent receivers still available. Perhaps they swing a trade with a team that has a surplus of receivers. Denver's Tim Patrick, Christian Kirk or Andy Isabella, or Sterling Shepard of the Giants may all be available.
New Orleans may also look in Houston's direction and bring another wideout ‘‘home'' to where he started his NFL career.
No credible sources have supported the rumor, but several Saints fans have been clamoring for the return of current Texans and former Saints wideout Brandin Cooks to the franchise.
BRANDIN COOKS - SAINTS
New Orleans surrendered 1st and 3rd round selections to move up in the 2014 NFL Draft. With the Number 20 overall pick, they selected WR Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State.
Cooks immediately added an explosive element to a prolific Saints passing attack. He would miss the last six games of his rookie year with an injury, but still caught 53 passes for 550 yards and 3 scores.
Cooks became a bigger part of the offense in 2015. He led the team with 1,138 receiving yards on what would be a career-high 84 receptions and 9 touchdowns.
The selection of WR Michael Thomas in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft cut into Cooks’ targets very little, reducing them to 117 in 2016 after 129 the year before. Thomas and Cooks made up what looked like a lethal combination of wideouts for years to come for the Saints.
By the end of 2016, Thomas had emerged as the top target for QB Drew Brees. Despite 78 receptions for a team-high 1,173 yards and 8 touchdowns, Cooks expressed unhappiness with his role in the offense.
BRANDIN COOKS - PATRIOTS
Just weeks before the 2017 NFL Draft, the Saints traded their lightening fast receiver to the New England Patriots, receiving first and third round draft picks in return. New Orleans used those picks to select RT Ryan Ramczyk and DE Trey Hendrickson.
Cooks played a career-high 93% of offensive snaps for New England in 2017. He had 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and 7 touchdowns, all second on the team.
He caught six passes for 100 yards in the 2018 AFC Championship, helping the Patriots to Super Bowl LII.
Cooks exited the 41-33 loss to the Eagles in the Super Bowl early in the game with a severe concussion. He had one catch for 23 yards.
BRANDIN COOKS - RAMS
New England traded Cooks after just one season to the Los Angeles Rams, getting a first-round draft pick in return.
In two years with Los Angeles, he’d play the Saints three times. He caught 16 passes for 295 yards and 2 scores against New Orleans, eclipsing the 100-Yd barrier twice.
Cooks finished second on the Rams in receiving in 2018, hauling in 80 receptions for a career-high 1,204 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was a crucial part of an L.A. team that advanced to Super Bowl LIII, thanks to a blatantly blown call by officials.
In the Super Bowl, Cooks caught 8 passes for 120 yards against another former team, the New England Patriots. The Patriots defeated the Rams, 13-3.
Cooks had the worst statistical year of his career for a struggling Rams offense in 2019. He played in 14 contests, catching 42 passes for 583 yards and 2 scores.
BRANDIN COOKS - TEXANS
Cooks was on the move again after the 2019 season. Los Angeles traded him to the Houston Texans, this time for a second-round draft pick.
Playing in 15 games, Cooks led his team in receiving and played in 82% of the offensive snaps. He had 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six scores and was often the only consistent offensive threat for Houston QB Deshaun Watson.
Cooks, who turns 28 in September, has played for three teams over his seven-year career. He has 483 receptions for 6,880 yards and 42 offensive touchdowns while hauling in nearly 67% of his targets.
Listed at 5'10 and 183-Lbs., Cooks has had concussion issues in his career but has only missed nine games. He isn't much of a factor over the middle and in high traffic areas, where Michael Thomas has thrived for the Saints.
More than just a deep threat, Cooks has instant acceleration with the ball in his hands. He is one of the league's most feared receivers on wideout screens or quick throws.
Given the nature of his departure from New Orleans in 2017, it is difficult to envision a reunion between Cooks and the franchise that drafted him.
Coach Sean Payton has stated that he feels comfortable with the pieces he has at wide receiver, even with the injury to Thomas and possible suspension of Harris.
If the Saints make a trade for a wide receiver, they may look into a more reliable intermediate target like Tim Patrick, Sterling Shepard, or Christian Kirk.
The team is also breaking in a new quarterback, with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill competing to replace the retired Brees.
New Orleans would be wise to surround their new quarterback with as many weapons as possible, and Cooks knows Payton's playbook. He would be a gamebreaking addition to a passing offense that struggled in 2020.
If fences can be mended, perhaps it might be time for a return ‘‘home'' to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks.