Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Brandin Cooks: Did Cowboys Dodge Contract Bullet?

The Cowboys were heavily interested in Odell Beckham Jr., but now the receiver has signed a one-year deal worth up to $18 million with the Ravens. Did Dallas dodge a bullet?

The Dallas Cowboys weren’t shy about their interest in Odell Beckham Jr.; the Jerry Jones-led public courting last season was evidence of that.

But after the Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans, and then restructured his contract, Dallas filled the receiver need and ceased its pursuit of Odell.

Is the way things played out representative of Dallas having dodged a bullet?

Beckham Jr. is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens after agreeing to a one-year deal worth up to $18 million. That “$18 million” figure is important when he try to compare OBJ to Cooks.

Cooks is technically receiving $18 million this year as well. But … Houston is paying $6 million of that. So Dallas’ 2023 cost on Cooks is $12 million.

Additionally, while Beckham will cost $15 million (his guaranteed salary) against the Ravens cap, in Dallas, Cooks will cost just $6 million on the Dallas cap in 2023 and just $10 million on the cap in 2024.

In other words, Cooks contract is for two years and a maximum of $20 million, while OBJ’s contract is for one year with a maximum $18 million.

So if Beckham is at the top of his game in Baltimore? He’ll cost the Ravens almost as much for one year of service as Cooks will cost for two seasons in Dallas.

(Sidebar: The Ravens do not conventionally do “voidable years” on contracts, but if they do so here, the single-season cap impact can be spread out – with the “piper to be paid” somehow nevertheless. Stay tuned on that.)

Beckham is coming off two ACL injuries, though it is certainly possible he returns to the star-level performance we last saw in 2019. Cooks has no concerns in that area.

Cooks also doesn’t have the “diva” gene some say Odell has; at the very least, it is inarguable that Beckham brings baggage and controversy wherever he goes

Dallas preferred Cooks to Beckham Jr., and now looking at what the Ravens stumped up for the free agent receiver, the Cowboys may have dodged a salary cap bullet.

One great measure in Baltimore will be if OBJ serves as an icebreaker in the Ravens’ contract stalemate with QB Lamar Jackson; that can be an intangible “win” for the hopeful AFC contender. But the size of Cooks’ contract can/has also had positive impact as it frees Dallas to add to a roster of this hopeful NFC contender.

Dallas opted to avoid the OBJ circus to instead trade for Cooks, a player who is universally praised as a locker-room chemistry guy, who doesn’t have an injury history, who doesn’t bring controversy and who comes, in a sense, at half the price of Odell.

Bullet dodged.

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