New Orleans Saints  

 

Brandin Cooks could be at center of offseason trade talks

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Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks has walked a fine line, trying to stay silent amid a diminished role but also wanting to contribute to his team's dynamic offense.

As he told reporters this week, every once in a while you have to speak up for yourself. Cooks added, "Closed mouths don't get fed."

Cooks, the electric former first-rounder, should get fed Sunday against Detroit. Expect an effort from Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton to satiate him -- especially after his no-target, no-catch performance against the Rams.

The offseason might be a different story. 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.

This could be similar to what New Orleans did with Jimmy Graham. There are only so many balls to go around. He's a vertical threat unused in that way, and the Saints might decide he's more valuable in a trade than on their team.

Graham's trade had to do with his huge contract. For Cooks, it might be because of his impeding contract, as well as the fact that the team seems to have found receivers such as Willie Snead and breakout star Michael Thomas who better fit what they do.

For instance, Cooks (51 catches for 736 yards and six scores) is on pace to have 30 fewer targets than last season. Though he's averaging 14.4 yards per catch, more than last year, those numbers are skewed by a 98-yarder and an 87-yarder.

It's a tricky situation, made more difficult by Cooks' close relationship with Brees. But the fact that the Saints, the No. 1 offense, scored 49 points without him catching a ball last week might contribute to what should be a very interesting offseason.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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