And 3 months later, no more Cooks. This article was true back in December, we are truly better off without him.
Here’s the thing about Cooks: He’s pretty good at playing receiver, but he has failed in almost every additional role the Saints envisioned for him when they traded up to select him during the 2014 draft. Cooks is the worst punt returner the Saints have had under Sean Payton, which is saying a lot for a punt returner under Sean Payton. He brings nothing to special teams, unlike a Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles. He’s terrible in the open field — when was the last time you saw him beat a tackler in space? — so he doesn’t threaten defenses in the way Bush or Sproles could, or current wunderkind Michael Thomas does. He never produces more than the defense, or his team, gives him.
Cooks has two skills: He catches the ball well, and he runs very fast. Cooks rolled up 84 receptions and 1138 yards last year, and should be close to those numbers again when 2016 finally ends. Watching Cooks get behind a defense and outrun the world is a joy. When he does that, half a dozen or so times a year, it’s great. When he doesn’t, he catches five or six or seven routine passes and forces defenses to account for his speed. He’s fine, but he prioritizes his numbers over his role.