Brandin Cooks shows in loss why Texans should find a way to keep him

HOUSTON -- In 2020, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has lost wide receivers to trade, injuries, waivers and suspension.

But through it all, Watson has found a consistent target in Brandin Cooks. The wide receiver, acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in April, is on the cusp of another 1,000-yard season, with seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s 37-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

In his first six NFL seasons, Cooks had a 1,000-yard receiving season with the Saints, Patriots and Rams. The only player in NFL history to post 1,000 receiving yards in a season with four teams is Brandon Marshall, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Texans have a decision to make on Cooks this offseason, who has 70 catches for 984 yards in 15 games. He is currently owed $12 million next season and has shown that he can be a No. 1 receiver. It is a key decision that awaits whoever the Texans hire as their next general manager after the season, but Houston could sign Cooks to an extension that gives him guaranteed money and lowers his cap hit, creating a win-win for both parties.

Yes, Watson has shown this season that he can put up big numbers with a revolving group of receivers, but keeping Cooks will give the Texans’ franchise quarterback some stability at the position.

Too little, too late: Running back David Johnson has had two good games in a row -- in the passing game in Week 15 and on the ground in Week 16 against the Bengals -- but it isn’t likely enough to change the organization’s perception of his 2020 season. In his first season in Houston, Johnson has been inconsistent and missed time due to injury and a week spent on the COVID-19 list. Johnson is owed $9 million next season and although Houston doesn’t have a high draft pick to replace him with, they will be able to find a cheaper option for 2021.

QB breakdown: Watson spread the ball around, targeting nine different pass-catchers against the Bengals. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss and has thrown just one interception in his last 10 games. Watson's third touchdown of the game was his 30th of the season, which set a franchise record.

Eye-popping stat: Watson became the fifth-fastest player to 100 passing touchdowns in NFL history (53 games). Watson joins Patrick Mahomes, Dan Marino, Kurt Warner and Johnny Unitas as the only players to reach 100 passing touchdowns in 53 games or fewer.