Tagged in: second-round pick

CB Casey Hayward Jr. signs with Las Vegas Raiders, rejoins DC Gus Bradley

The Las Vegas Raiders added a veteran presence to their youthful secondary by signing cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. on Tuesday.

Hayward, 31, a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2012, joins cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen (drafted in the second round in 2019), Damon Arnette (first round in 2020), Amik Robertson (fourth round in 2020) and Nate Hobbs (fifth round in 2021), as well as safeties Johnathan Abram (first round in 2019), Trevon Moehrig (second round in 2021) and Tyree Gillespie (fourth round in 2021).

The move also reunites Hayward, who was released by the Los Angeles Chargers in March, with Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who was his defensive coordinator in Los Angeles the past four campaigns. The Raiders hired Bradley as their defensive coordinator in January.

The signing could mean the Raiders will not move on another veteran free-agent cornerback in Richard Sherman, who has also been linked to Las Vegas. Hayward, 31, appeared in 14 matches last season, making 13 starts.

He finished with an interception and eight passes defended. He was inactive for the Nov. 29 game at Buffalo, snapping a streak of 107 consecutive games played.

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The signing could mean the Raiders will not move on another veteran free-agent cornerback in Richard Sherman, who has also been linked to Las Vegas.

Hayward, 31, appeared in 14 matches last season, making 13 starts. He finished with an interception and eight passes defended. He was inactive for the Nov. 29 game at Buffalo, snapping a streak of 107 consecutive games played.

During his five seasons with the Chargers, Hayward had 66 passes defensed, which led the AFC during that span. He led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2016 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017.

He has 23 career interceptions, though only three in his past three seasons combined.

Hayward dealt with back, groin and hamstring injuries in 2020, and while he led the NFL with 42 pass breakups over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, he permitted 8.6 yards per target in 2020, the worst mark of his career.

Arnette, meanwhile, allowed 11.8 yards per target, and Mullen gave up 7.7 yards per target. Hayward could potentially start on the outside in place of Arnette.

The Raiders also signed cornerback Rasul Douglas on April 19 and safety Karl Joseph, a first-round pick of the Raiders in 2016 who spent last season with Cleveland, on April 9.

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Rams trade Brandin Cooks to Texans

The Los Angeles Rams are trading receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the teams hadn’t informed the trade. The NFL Network reported the Rams will get a second-round pick while sending a future fourth-rounder to Houston.

Cooks will help the Texans replace DeAndre Hopkins, who was shockingly traded to the Arizona Cardinals last month for running back David Johnson and two draft picks.

While Cooks hasn’t matched Hopkins’ superstar play, Cooks is a fast, steady deep threat who has five 50-reception seasons over his six-year career. Cooks posted 1,000-yard seasons for each of his first three NFL teams: New Orleans, New England and Los Angeles.

Cooks, a California native who spent his first three campaigns with the Saints, played the past two years for the Rams after they acquired him from the Patriots. Los Angeles gave him an $81m contract extension through 2023 before he played a game for the team.

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Cooks played in back-to-back Super Bowls, suiting up for New England in early 2018 and for the Rams in early 2019.

He caught 80 passes for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 with the Rams’ NFC championship team.

But Cooks managed a career-low 42 catches for just 583 yards last season while overcoming the latest in a series of concussions. He had only 15 catches after Week 7, and he sat out for two games after incurring a concussion during the Rams’ game against Cincinnati in London.

Cooks has incurred at least five concussions during his NFL career. He didn’t play for four weeks after his most recent concussion, seeking additional medical help during that stretch.

Although Houston still has receivers Kenny Stills, Will Fuller and Randall Cobb, the Texans clearly wanted another veteran target for Deshaun Watson after they moved on from Hopkins and his steadily spectacular production. Hopkins, who has five career 1,000-yard seasons, caught roughly one-third of Watson’s completions over the past three years.

Cooks joins running back Todd Gurley in the offseason exodus of veteran talent from the Rams. Cooks and Gurley, the former AP Offensive Player of the Year, were essential components of coach Sean McVay’s offense over the past two seasons.

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