Rams smart to lock up Brandin Cooks long term

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Brandin Cooks
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Brandin Cooks /

The Los Angeles Rams paid a ton to keep Brandin Cooks around long term, but the contract will look better with every passing day.

The critics will say the Rams overpaid for a good, but not great, receiver. While that may wind up true, it also pangs of shortsightedness.

Los Angeles decided to spend some of its ample cap space on Tuesday afternoon, locking up receiver Brandin Cooks on a five-year, $80 million extension. All told, Cooks is signed for six years and $88 million, giving third-year quarterback Jared Goff his go-to weapon for the foreseeable future.

Cooks, 24, is entering his fifth year in the NFL, having spent the first three with the New Orleans Saints and last season with the New England patriots. After being moved from New Orleans to New England for a first-round pick, the Rams paid the same price this offseason to attain the young star.

For his career, Cooks has three 1,000-yard seasons with 27 touchdowns, averaging 14.1 yards per catch. He now enters an offense that includes a bevy of weapons including Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp, with head coach Sean McVay at the controls.

While $16 million per year is steep, Los Angeles is wise to keep one of its budding superstars. Cooks has been productive throughout his burgeoning career, and with the cap rising every offseason, the contract will become less of a burden with each turn of the calendar.

If there is any criticism to be made, it’s that general manager Les Snead could have retained his 2018 first-round pick and simply signed Sammy Watkins, who got the same AAV on a three-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Watkins, 25, only has one 1,000-yard season but is an elite red zone threat.

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Regardless, the Rams took care of one of their top priorities, allowing them to move onto other contract negotiations. Los Angeles will have to pay Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley soon, while decisions on Ndamukong Suh, Lamarcus Joyner, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters loom. The Rams won’t be able to keep everybody, although creative cap management should see most stay with the franchise.

Ultimately, the Rams are tying to take advantage of the Seattle Seahawks being a rebuild mode, while the San Francisco 49ers aren’t quite in their contention window. It’s a smart move by Los Angeles to go for broke now, while the division is soft and the quarterback is on a rookie deal.