By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Being a part of the Houston Texans organization right now is not the most exciting time. The team is 1-6, the star quarterback remains away from the team due to 22 women accusing him of sexual assault, the owner is in a bit of trouble for using some anti-Asian language at a golf tournament, and the dysfunction seems to have no end.
Brandin Cooks might be kind of sick of it.
On Wednesday afternoon, after the Texans traded away running back Mark Ingram, Cooks sent out the following message via Twitter: "This is bulls---. Such a joke."
Clearly, Cooks is not having the best time in Houston. The Texans are 5-18 since he joined the team, and the trading away of the player with second-most yards from scrimmage (behind Cooks) indicates there's not much hope for this season.
Perhaps, then, the team and Cooks will seek a trade before next week's deadline. If the Texans don't believe in competing this year, and if Cooks doesn't believe in the team's direction, then Houston could seek to acquire some draft capital. (The Texans didn't get a whole lot for Ingram, but could possibly fetch a decent return for Cooks, who's under contract for another season.)
And if Cooks is on the block, it would make sense for Bill Belichick to make a call to former understudy Nick Caserio.
As it stands now, it's not entirely clear if the Patriots are actually in a position to make a run at the postseason. They're 3-4, and the only teams they've beaten are the Jets (1-5) and the lowly Texans -- and even that win was far from convincing.
They're facing the 4-2 Chargers this week, and they're hosting the Browns (4-3) in Week 10, with a trip to Carolina (3-4) sandwiched in between. Win all three of those games, and the Patriots are in business at 6-4. Drop a couple, and the outlook isn't quite as rosy at 4-6.
Yet if Belichick and the Patriots look ahead and project a lot of winning in the final two months of the season, then they certainly could benefit from adding Cooks.
Somehow, impossibly, Cooks is still just 28 years old. Now in his eighth NFL season, he ranks 128th in NFL history with 7,382 receiving yards. He's missed just three regular-season games since 2015. He's topped 1,000 receiving yards in all five seasons when he's played at least 15 games.
That included a 65-catch, 1,082-yard, 7-touchdown showing in his lone season in New England in 2017. He also caught six passes for 100 yards and drew two critical pass interference penalties against the top-ranked Jaguars defense in the AFC Championship Game that year.
(In case you forgot, the Patriots traded a first-round pick -- No. 32 overall -- to the Saints to acquire Cooks. The Patriots then traded Cooks for the Rams' first-round pick, No. 23 overall. There were some later-round picks moving in those deals, but that was the crux of the trades.)
The Patriots also aren't in position to reject any upgrades at the receiver position. With 59 targets, Jakobi Meyers has been the team's No. 1 receiving option. Meyers also ranks 36th in the NFL in receiving yards and has yet to catch a touchdown in his three-year career. Kendrick Bourne has 22 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns, Nelson Agholor has 19 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns, and that's the extent of the Patriots' wide receiver production. (N'Keal Harry has three receptions for 47 yards.)
Cooks currently has 502 receiving yards with the Texans, with Davis Mills as his quarterback. Cooks has 112 more yards than Meyers, who leads the Patriots with 390 receiving yards. (The Texans trailing as often as they are has likely led to some more passing opportunities for Cooks, but it's not as if the Patriots have had too many comfortable leads late in games to diminish passing production.)
As the field and playbook might open up a bit for rookie Mac Jones, a veteran burner like Cooks would help the league's 16th-ranked offense climb closer toward the top 10.
Cooks wouldn't hurt the Patriots' salary cap this season, as the Texans converted $10 million of his 2021 salary into a signing bonus in the spring. He is, however, due $12.5 million next season.
It's all speculation, of course. But whenever a former Patriots hits the news like this -- Jamie Collins, LeGarrette Blount, Kyle Van Noy, Trent Brown come to mind -- it's only natural to wonder if Belichick will seek a reunion. In this case, with the Patriots in position to benefit from a player like Cooks, a second go-round in New England would make a lot of sense for the right price.
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