Already pegged as 14-point home underdogs, Houston’s road to upsetting the Eagles—the NFL’s last unbeaten team at 7-0—just got a whole lot tougher with Adam Schefter reporting Brandin Cooks will not be in unform Thursday night, with the Texans attributing his absence to “personal reasons.” The news comes two days after the trade deadline, which came and went with Cooks still a Texan despite interest from multiple teams. After being listed as a full participant at Monday’s practice, Cooks was downgraded to DNP Tuesday and Wednesday and ultimately listed as questionable on the Texans’ final injury report.
Per Schefter, Cooks, who has been with Houston since 2020, had “hoped” to land with a contending team at the deadline, heavily implying the disgruntled receiver is seeking a change of scenery with no desire to play for a struggling team in the early stages of what could be a lengthy rebuild. With potential for two picks in the top ten of next year’s draft (their own as well as a first-rounder acquired from Cleveland in the Deshaun Watson trade), the Texans appear to be actively tanking, incentivizing them to shut down Cooks in service of improving their draft position.
League insider Jordan Schultz says the Texans are not expected to release Cooks, citing the $18 million (all guaranteed) he’s owed next season. Houston had been asking for a second-round pick in exchange for Cooks, who has topped 1,000 yards receiving six times since being drafted with the 20th overall pick in 2014. Despite that consistency, Cooks has never found a true NFL home, at one point playing for four teams (the Saints, Patriots, Rams and Texans) in a span of five seasons.
The Texans, who were already shorthanded with Nico Collins nursing a groin injury suffered in Week 7, will turn to Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore at receiver Thursday night with tight ends O.J. Howard and Brevin Jordan also in line for increased roles.
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