The Houston Texans had an interesting offseason. In what was widely considered a shocking move, GM/Head Coach Bill O’Brien shipped off perennial All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson and several picks. When the news broke, fans were reasonably outraged, and the once imposing Texans offense seemed modest at best. Who would Deshaun Watson throw the ball to now?
The club then went out and traded a second-round pick to the LA Rams for the Brandin Cooks, a speedy wide receiver who has been traded three times in his six-year career despite posting numerous 1,000-yard seasons. They also signed Kentucky’s own Randall Cobb to a three-year deal.
It seemed that the Hopkins trade happened because of friction between the star receiver and O’Brien, displayed primarily through a contract dispute. Though Hopkins was not up for an extension, he wanted more money and was seeking a renegotiation. And it’s hard to argue against the former Clemson standout’s value. He’s had over 1,000 receiving yards in all but two of his seven career seasons and had seen his touchdown numbers jump since Watson took over as quarterback. The young twosome had established a great rapport and was coming off back-to-back playoff seasons. All of these things made it that much harder to believe that Hopkins would, seemingly out of nowhere, get traded.
Perhaps O’Brien’s thinking was that two is better than one. Is there greater value in having both Cooks and Cobb at the same price it would cost for DeAndre Hopkins? Much of the football world seems to say no to that question, and I don’t disagree.
But that doesn’t mean that the offense will take a tremendous step back. Where Hopkins has the new duo beat in terms of talent and sheer ability, Cooks and Cobb have more experience. Cooks has played in two of the last four Super Bowls, and Cobb spent a number of years on playoff-contending Packers teams.
As a matter of fact, Cobb spoke to this trait earlier this week. He believes he will be a great benefit to Deshaun Watson.
“He’s hungry for knowledge, he’s hungry for information and I’m trying to give him all the knowledge I can from the experience that I have with Aaron and with Dak and the things that worked well for us over the course of my career,” Cobb said on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
And when it comes to production, Cobb will definitely have a chance to make an impact.
After a resurgent season with Dallas that saw him record 828 receiving yards, his most since 2015, Cobb goes to Houston as a reliable target for Watson. Last season, Hopkins ran 211 routes out of the slot and was targeted on 57 of them, which was the second-highest target rate in the league.
If those numbers are any indication, Cobb–one of the league’s most notable slot receivers–should be in a position to see a lot of targets next season.
He may be turning 30 this year, and seems more like a savvy veteran than anything, but don’t sleep on Cobb. He’s still got moves like this in his bag of tricks.
Randall Cobb, man. Randall Cobb. pic.twitter.com/5XwVmImuBV
— Dusty (@DustyEvely) June 24, 2020
Cobb may not be Hopkins, but he’s very capable of elevating a star quarterback in Watson and helping the Texans maintain their previous seasons of success.