It never seemed realistic, but a number of Dallas Cowboys fans pined for the team to trade for DeAndre Hopkins following his Cardinals release.
The Cowboys were linked with Hopkins following their trade for Stephon Gilmore. Why make a singular all-in move when you can double up, right?
As we know, Dallas ultimately settled on Brandin Cooks and it was revealed in the aftermath of the Cooks blockbuster that the team's "interest" in Hopkins was more media- and fan-driven than anything else.
It sure sounds like the Cowboys made some calls around the NFL and gathered that Hopkins ultimately would get released ... and would swiftly demand a hefty contract as a free agent.
That's exactly what happened, as the Hopkins sweepstakes lasted longer than anyone anticipated before it came to an unexciting end this week when he agreed to terms with the Titans on a two-year, $26 million deal with annual incentives that could bring the total value of the contract to $32 million.
DeAndre Hopkins' contract with Titans validates Cowboys' Brandin Cooks trade.
While the Cowboys parted with two draft picks to get Cooks, we're talking about a fifth and sixth-rounder. Nobody's going to be missing those if Cooks makes the impact everyone expects of him as a six-time 1,000-yard receiver.
Further, Cooks has been the more durable and productive player over the last three seasons and Cooks is a better fit with what the Cowboys want to do offensively under Mike McCarthy. While Cooks can stretch opposing defenses over the top, he's better suited for the quick-hitting slants McCarthy likes to run.
That brings us to the players' contracts.
The Cowboys restructured Cooks' contract following the trade, creating nearly $6 million in cap space and giving them a potential out of Michael Gallup's contract next year. The 29-year-old Cooks is on the books for $6 million in 2022 and $10 million next year.
He'll make just $4 million guaranteed over that span after Dallas converted $8 million of his base salary into a signing bonus. This came after the Texans agreed to pay $6 million of Cooks' $18 million salary to facilitate the trade.
The guarantee structure of Hopkins' deal is unknown at this time, but he'll carry a combined cap charge of close to $20 million over the life of the two-year contract. Cooks will count for $16 million against the cap while making significantly less in terms of salary and incentives.
That's great value for Dallas when you consider Hopkins has played 19 games over the last two seasons. Cooks, meanwhile, hasn't played fewer than 13 games since his rookie year in 2014 and notched over 1,000 yards as recently as 2021 despite playing in a lousy Texans offense.
Much like Odell Beckham's deal with the Ravens, Hopkins' Titans contract is further proof the Cowboys absolutely nailed the Cooks trade.