"Brandin is someone who we value tremendously in our system. He's been extremely productive. He's everything we were wanting when we drafted him," Payton said. "These news items come up and there are a lot of meetings that take place here. I wouldn't say he's on the trade block, but certainly when a team calls -- a team that's looking for a receiver and we're looking to improve our defense -- we're always listening.
"I know Mickey (Loomis) has probably spoken to a handful of GMs or presidents with other teams. Right now, I'm comfortable, we're comfortable with him in a Saints uniform, and we think the world of him and his skill set. It would have to be something real significant. That's part of being at the combine and that's one of the things that takes place down here and that news certainly spreads quicker now than it would 10 years ago."
Cooks spent portions of last year unhappy about his diminished role in the attack, but the fourth-year receiver still wound up with 78 catches for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns, down just six catches from 2015. His overall targets dropped from 129 two seasons ago to 117 in 2016, but Cooks is part of a crowded house at the receiver position.
For teams looking for a sure thing over drafting a developmental prospect, Cooks has emerged as a juicy offseason option.