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Rams own two second-round draft picks after trading Brandin Cooks to Texans

Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks carries the ball against the Cleveland Browns in September.
(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

The Rams were so enamored of receiver Brandin Cooks, they gave him a huge extension in 2018 before he played a snap. But like star running back Todd Gurley, Cooks is no longer part of the franchise less than two years after signing a megadeal.

The Rams on Thursday traded Cooks to the Houston Texans in exchange for a second-round pick in the April 23-25 draft. The Rams also gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Cooks’ departure marks the second major move involving a key player on offense from a Rams team that finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2019. On March 19, the Rams cut Gurley, who signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

By trading Cooks, the Rams incur a $21.8 million dead-cap hit, a person with knowledge of the situation said. But they added capital for a draft that is deep in talented receivers. The Rams do not have a first-round pick, but they now have two second-round picks, the 52nd and 57th overall.

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The speedy Cooks, 26, played two seasons for the Rams, helping them reach the Super Bowl in 2018. But his tenure was marked by multiple concussions, including one in 2018 and two last season.

Cooks’ name had come up in trade talks before the start of free agency last month. The Rams, however, apparently could not find a deal to their liking.

The Rams’ decision to part ways with Todd Gurley means Jared Goff must deliver for the Rams in 2020 after receiving a mammoth contract extension last year.

“He’s another player that, the track record, the production, the human being, all those things align and certainly there’s teams that have reached out because they see the same things that we value about the player,” Rams coach Sean McVay said this week.

The trade to the Texans — in search of a wideout since dealing star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in March — marks the third time Cooks has been traded since the New Orleans Saints selected him with the 20th pick in the 2014 draft.

In 2017, the Saints traded Cooks to the New England Patriots for a first-round draft pick. In 2018, the Rams gave up a first-round pick for Cooks. A few months later, they signed him to a five-year, $81 million contract that included more than $50 million in guarantees.

Cooks was due to earn $12 million in guarantees this season, with a salary-cap number of $16.8 million.

Returning from a shoulder injury, John Johnson finds himself in a leadership role as Rams’ most experienced safety. Second-year pro Taylor Rapp also will start.

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Teaming with receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, Cooks caught 80 passes for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. It marked the third time that Cooks eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving. Last season, he caught 42 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns.

Cooks’ departure leaves the Rams with five receivers — Woods, Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Nsimba Webster and Greg Dortch.

Woods is now the Rams highest-paid receiver. He is scheduled to earn $8.2 million this season, and has an additional year left on his contract. Kupp and Reynolds are in the final year of their rookie contracts.


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