While Saints coach Sean Payton has said for the record that he “absolutely” expects wide receiver Brandin Cooks to be with the team in 2017, Cooks is reportedly part of trade talks with at least two teams, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting.
Saints WR Brandin Cooks is the object of trade talks with the Titans and Eagles identified as two interested suitors, per league sources.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) March 2, 2017
Mortensen went on to say that the Titans would be more likely suitors than the Eagles.
Nothing can officially happen until March 9, when the new league year begins.
In a video interview posted on the team’s website Thursday afternoon from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Saints coach Sean Payton did not deny the reports.
“It’s not uncommon at this event where there’s a lot of discussion (regarding) picks (and) players,” Payton said. “I’ve said this before: Brandon is someone we value tremendously in our system. He’s been extremely productive. He’s everything we were wanting when we drafted him.
“Now that being said, there are a lot of meetings that take place here. I wouldn’t say he’s on the trading block, but certainly when a team calls, a team that’s looking for a receiver and we’re looking to improve our defense, we’re always listening. I know Mickey (Loomis) has probably spoken to a handful of GMs and presidents with other teams, but right now, we’re comfortable with (Cooks) in a Saints uniform. It would have to be something real significant.
“That (report is) part of being at the Combine. That news spreads quicker now than it would have 10 years ago.”
Cooks, the Saints’ first-round selection (No. 20 overall) out of Oregon State in 2014, caught 78 passes for a career-high 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last year. However, Cooks expressed his frustration following the Saints’ 49-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, when he was not targeted.
In his three years as a Saint, Cooks has 215 career receptions for 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Cooks is scheduled to make $1.56 million in 2016, the final season of his four-year contract signed prior to his rookie season, and with the pro-rated portion of his signing bonus, is due to count $2.66 million against the salary cap.