Eagles

Eagles

If the Eagles have the opportunity, they should trade for Brandin Cooks. Even if it means giving up their first-round pick. 

In an age when first-round picks are seen as untouchable golden bars, this opinion is going to be unpopular. I mean, how can you trade a first-round pick? 

Well, in this case, it just makes too much sense. Everything seems to line up. 

First off, you might have noticed the Eagles kinda need some help at receiver. The combination of Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham and Bryce Treggs wasn't just bad. It was bad enough that if it happens again, it could stunt the growth of the franchise quarterback. 

Over the last two seasons, Cooks hasn't just been OK. He's been really, really good. 

In 2015 and 2016, Cooks had 162 catches for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. The only other players in the league to put up those same stats over the last two years: Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.

That's not bad company. 

And it's not just the overall body of work, it's that Cooks does exactly what the Eagles need. He had as many 40-yard catches (six) and 50-yard catches (three) as the entire Eagles team in 2016. 

The whole reason DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills have been appealing options this offseason for the Eagles is because of their deep-threat ability. Cooks is right there with them. 

And he's just 23 years old. 

 

To put his age into perspective, the top three receivers in this year's draft class -- Mike Williams, John Ross and Corey Davis -- are all 22. So Cooks is one year older and already has two 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL. 

This trade wouldn't be a move to pick up an aging veteran in the league. It would be a move to pick up a proven commodity who is still young enough to grow with Wentz as he enters his own. 

So far, all of this has been stuff you already knew. Cooks is good and he'd fit with the Eagles. 

What about price? Not only the price to get him, but also the price to keep him. That's the part that has Eagles fans worried. We'll start with the price to get him. 

Yes, a first-round pick is steep. And Howie Roseman is probably trying to work his trade magic to pull off the deal for less. If he somehow lands Cooks for a second-rounder and something else, great. Then, it's a no-brainer. 

But even if it takes parting with the No. 14 pick in the draft, the Eagles should do it. Here are a few reasons why: 

Draft picks and new cars are just about the only things that seem to lose value the second they're driven off the lot. It's why most players drafted in a given round, unless they become great, are immediately worth a lesser-round pick a few years later. (A big reason for that is financial.) 

With the depth of the cornerback class, without a first-round pick, the Eagles can still use their second-round pick to pick up a starter in the secondary.

Still, there's no doubt the Eagles would have a good chance to draft a good player at 14. But it's certainly much more of a gamble than picking up a proven player. It's rare that a trade for a player of Cooks' caliber is ever an option. 

There's a really good chance the top receivers in this class will never be as good as Cooks. Obviously, there's a chance one of them could be great, but none are slam dunks. And do you really trust Roseman to pick the one that will turn out? 

And remember, this draft pick was the return for Sam Bradford. Would you have traded Bradford for Cooks straight up? 

The second part of cost is the cost to keep Cooks. And I understand the trepidation, but not trading for Cooks because of a fear that the Eagles won't be able to re-sign him after two years is just playing scared. 

This season, he would come with a low cap hit of $2.67 million, which would be great for the Eagles, who have around $8.5 million in cap space. They're strapped. And even next season, the Eagles would have a club option to keep Cooks for around $8.5 million. 

Two years of Cooks at around $6 million per year sounds a lot better than adding a free agent like Stills or Jackson for $10-12 million over four or more years. 

 

And then, if everything goes the way the Eagles hope over those two years, sure, Cooks will be expensive. If he isn't expensive after the 2018 season, something has gone horribly wrong. 

But here's the thing: Good players get paid. And it will be up to Roseman to find a way to keep him in the building. 

Roseman has talked all offseason about signing free agents in their mid-20s instead of older guys. He wants players that can grow with Wentz and the organization. Well, how's this then: In two years, the Eagles could have a pending free agent in-house who is 25 and coming off four straight 1,000-yard seasons. Yeah, he's going to cost a lot of money in two years. But that can't be the reason not to go after him today. 

Sure, there seem to be plenty of reasons not to trade a first-rounder for Cooks. But there are more reasons to do it.