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NFL trade rumors: WR Brandin Cooks could be on the market this offseason

The 49ers could use wide receivers, and might as well consider every potentially available option.

The New Orleans Saints are dealing with a slightly disgruntled wide receiver. Brandin Cooks was shut out of both receptions and targets in the Saints win last week, and earlier this week he told reporters, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” And now, it is possible he could end up a trade option in the offseason. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting Cooks could end up on the trade market for a team that is better suited to his talents.

Rapoport did not offer specific rumors. He said Cooks could be more involved in the offense this week against the Detroit Lions, but “[t]he offseason might be a different story.” Rapoport offered this:

Cooks' frustration with his role in the offense led some to wonder if this is the best system for his talents, something the Saints likely will explore in the offseason.

Expect trade talks centered around Cooks leading up to the free-agency window, with the speedster no doubt set to draw interest.

In 2017, Cooks will enter the final season of his rookie contract, which will pay him a $781,599 base salary. He was a first round pick (No. 20 overall) in 2014, which means the Saints will have the option of picking up his fifth year option. This past offseason saw fifth year options picked up or declined for 2013 first round picks. For wide receivers drafted in spots 11-32, the salary was $7,915,000.

Rapoport suggested this was similar to the Jimmy Graham situation in that there are only so many balls to go around, and the Saints are seeing the emergence of Michael Thomas and Willie Snead. Last season, Cooks had 84 receptions for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns. This season, he is on pace for 74 receptions for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns.

Cooks is not a big guy, standing 5’10 and weighing 189 pounds. However, he is still plenty versatile to add something to a lot of offenses. I do wonder how much the Saints and Drew Brees inflate offensive numbers, but given the 49ers desperate need for wide receivers, he is at least an intriguing option. Rapoport’s report comes across mostly as speculation, so it is entirely possible he sticks around and they smooth things out. But if he is available, it will be interesting to see what kind of sticker price is involved. There will be the draft pick(s) to consider, but there is also the likelihood of negotiating a long-term contract as well.