Earlier this offseason, there was speculation that Brandin Cooks could be a trade candidate given his veteran status on a rebuilding Houston Texans squad. Instead, Houston signed the receiver to a two-year contract extension to keep the 28-year-old around.
Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Monday that bringing back Cooks ensures Houston will have a go-to threat that defenses must game-plan for each week.
"I think that when you look at just the production that Brandin has been able to have over the last few seasons, but over the course of his career, he brings a certain level of paranoia for our opponents, and that's going to open up the opportunity for us to balance out our attack," Hamilton said, via the team's official website. "We have to improve our run game, but at the same time, we go out with the objection to score. We want to outscore the opponent every game we play."
While rebuilding squads usually rip the foundation to the studs, retaining a player of Cooks' caliber allows the offense to function at a reasonable level while grooming the rest of the roster. Keeping Cooks makes the evaluation of young quarterback Davis Mills easier in a pivotal season for the signal-caller's future.
Despite skipping about the NFL, playing for four teams in his eight-year career, Cooks remains ultra-productive. He has earned at least 1,000 yards in six of those years, including both in Houston. Last year for the four-win Texans, Cooks generated 1,037 yards and six TDs on 90 catches (a career-high in receptions).
New coach Lovie Smith noted that signing Cooks to an extension wasn't just about keeping a talented player but also ensuring there is a leader in the receiver room for the young talent like last year's third-round pick Nico Collins and whoever they import this season.
"Brandin has been through an awful lot," Smith said. "He's a guy that's done it a few different places, but what I was able to see from a different position last year was just how he went to work every day, too. You have veterans that you want on the team to show the younger guys how to play, how to handle themselves as a pro. Brandin feels really good about being here. We talked about those other players wanting to be here, Brandin is another one that wanted to be here. He believes in that vision for our football team and what we can do. I'm excited to have him back."