THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Brandin Cooks has been traded twice in the past 13 months despite being one of the NFL’s most productive receivers over the past three years, so the Rams’ new top target knows he probably shouldn’t get completely comfortable in Los Angeles.
He’s still grateful to be joining another talented team with a shot at another Super Bowl — and perhaps he can still find a long-term future at home in California, too.
“It would be an extreme blessing to be here for a long haul, coming in here to be with a special group of guys,” Cooks said Thursday at the Rams’ training complex. “At the end of the day, it’s not something I’m pressing. I just want to come in here and be the best that I can be.”
Los Angeles coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead praised Cooks’ character and talent when they formally welcomed him to the defending NFC West champions, who had the NFL’s highest-scoring offense last year.
They’ve been interested in acquiring Cooks since before his first trade from New Orleans to New England last March. After Cooks posted another 1,000-yard season and reached the Super Bowl with New England, the Rams finally got him Monday.
“I’m hard-pressed to remember a player that’s got so many positive things said about him from different people he’s been exposed to,” McVay said. “You’re talking about a special person and a special player. Clearly he’s going to be a big part of our offense, being able to play our ‘X’ receiver (position) and do a variety of things.”
Cooks’ ability as a deep threat makes him a strong replacement for Sammy Watkins, who was acquired by the Rams last season after they failed to get Cooks. Watkins parlayed his single season in McVay’s high-powered passing game into a lavish free-agent deal with Kansas City.
Cooks also can be a free agent next year, but the Rams were willing to take the risk because they’re determined to build a Super Bowl contender with the payroll space available while Jared Goff is still in his rookie contract.
“Simply put, 2018 is important,” Snead said. “We definitely want to repeat as NFC (West) champions, but ... a lot of the players we’ve acquired are young and have evolved to be in the prime of their careers, and we would love to take advantage of that over not just ‘18, but ‘19, ‘20, ‘21 and moving forward.”
The Rams’ trades for Watkins and Cooks have left them without a pick in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, but Snead doesn’t sound terribly worried about the potential loss of organizational depth.
The Rams would rather have Cooks, who has already put together three seasons that were more productive than anything Watkins has done in the same four-year stretch. Cooks also is still three months younger than Cooper Kupp, who just finished an impressive rookie season for the Rams.
Cooks’ 1,082 yards receiving with the Patriots last season were 11th-most in the NFL. He was seventh in the league with 1,173 yards in 2016 during his final season with New Orleans, and he is one of just three active players with 1,000 yards and at least five touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.
Cooks had the benefit of catching passes from Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He already seems confident in Goff’s ability to provide him with similar service.
Cooks did have to playfully bat down one rumor that had already excited Rams fans: Although he has met Goff several times, and although they share the same agent, they hadn’t already had throwing sessions before the trade.
There’s plenty of time for that now.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to be able to grow with a young guy,” Cooks said. “I’m young myself, so to be able to start that rapport this offseason is going to be extremely huge. I look forward to getting to work right away.”