Heading in to 2023, the receiver room for the Green Bay Packers is looking young, but promising. At this moment, we only really know for sure that three current receivers will still be in Packers uniforms barring unforeseen circumstances. Those three are Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure. The other two big contributors still on the roster, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, will need new contracts to return. The supposed asking price for veteran receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks hit Twitter Sunday. It begs the question, should the Packers pull the trigger?
There it is. Apparently, the Cardinals will want a 2nd round pick for DeAndre Hopkins, and the Texans will want a 3rd round pick for Brandin Cooks. Are they worth that price though?
Put that price tag on Hopkins or Cook after the 2020 season and it would be considered an absolute steal. Both players achieved one-thousand-yard seasons through the air, and at the time likely would have come with a first-round price at the minimum. Fast forward to today and both players definitely weren’t in that shape for 2022 barely posting half that yardage.
Injuries may have played a part in that as Hopkins missed time due to a knee strain, and Cooks with a calf injury. This, and their contracts may play a factor in their lower price tag.
Both players are set to have a cap hit of over $20M in 2023. I’d be willing to give that type of money to a guy like Davante Adams or Ja’Marr Chase, but not Hopkins or Cooks. Their production does not equal their pay grade.
The argument could be made that both receivers haven’t exactly been with the best Quarterback situations between Houston and Arizona. Cooks hasn’t had a solid Quarterback since Deshaun Watson’s scandal, and Kyler Murray has been a bit inconsistent in for the Cardinals.
If I’m any team looking to trade for DeAndre Hopkins or Brandin Cooks though, I’m likely seeing if I can work out a restructured contract before trading. Take their cap hit down a bit and I think teams start to view a trade with these terms as a lower risk higher reward situation.
What Should the Packers do?
I’ve read a lot of comments on the subject of trades and free agency lately. Many say, “Well, if Aaron Rodgers returns, the Packers should do this.” And then “if he doesn’t return, don’t do that, do this instead.” Well, if I woke up and was suddenly GM of the Green Bay Packers, my move wouldn’t matter whether it’s Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love throwing the ball.
I would pull the trigger on one of them.
Except, I wouldn’t make my first offer as asked. I would maybe make an attempt at making these picks conditional. With Hopkins, perhaps offer a 3rd with a conditional 2nd if Hopkins starts 14 games. Cooks, same condition perhaps, but offer a 4th with a conditional 3rd. I’d love to put a performance condition on it too but that likely wouldn’t fly. Maybe offer an additional 6th or 7th on the condition if they don’t like it and decline.
If accepted, I’d immediately move to restructure, in fact perhaps even make that a condition of the trade, that a restructure must be agreed upon before making it official.
Which one to choose
This is where it got dicey for me. Again, you don’t want to pay a high draft pick unless you’re going to get that player for at least 14 games. While I’d love to say DeAndre Hopkins, I feel like the 2nd round price tag, number 46th overall is a little high. Unless I get them to agree on a conditional 2nd that starts as a 3rd, I think I pass on DeAndre Hopkins and go with Brandin Cooks.
Cooks I think is the best low risk high reward. And let’s be honest, the Packers have been awful drafting in the third round for a while. Perhaps this year, trading it away for a veteran contributor is the absolute best-case scenario to scare away that bad pick curse.
So, there you have it. Brandin Cooks for a conditional fourth round pick that could turn into a third if he starts 14 games. No matter if Rodgers is throwing that ball, or Love is, they can both benefit from a great veteran receiver to learn the ropes from a little bit more.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.