When Brandin Cooks puts his game jersey on again today, it will be missing something -- the "C" near his right shoulder.
The Texans have revoked the veteran wide receiver's captaincy in response to his public and private criticism of the team after they didn’t deal him at the trade deadline, sources said in recent days.
Cooks did not play in Houston's last game -- a 29-17 loss to the Eagles on Nov. 3 -- after he missed practice that week for what the team termed personal reasons. Sources said at the time the Texans were allowing Cooks a few days to regroup and clear his mind before returning to the facility ahead of today's game against the Giants.
"Don't take a man's kindness for granted," Cooks tweeted three minutes after the trade deadline passed. "Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career."
Sources say Texans head coach Lovie Smith, who declined to get into details of Cooks' situation while he was away from the team, was particularly upset with Cooks' airing his grievances publicly.
However, the hope on the team's end was Cooks would return with the same focus and work ethic he'd previously shown. He did, and so he will be back on the playing field at MetLife Stadium today, only not as a team captain. A source said the wrist injury that caused Cooks to be limited in practice last week and listed as questionable on the injury report won't affect his playing time.
"Man, I'm human," Cooks said on Nov. 10, in his first comments go the media since he'd returned to the team. "I'm frustrated, absolutely. I want to win. That's not the case. That's what's going on. That's the way I express my emotions.
"I think we all want to win. We're all frustrated in some sense. That's where I stand with that."
Cooks likely would have been dealt to a contending team if not for the $18 million fully guaranteed he has coming his way in 2023 as part of a two-year extension he signed with the Texans this spring. Taking on that money and sending significant draft-pick compensation to Houston caused a few teams to balk at the price.
Talks figure to resume this coming offseason once trades can be made at the start of the league year in March. For now, though, Cooks is in Houston.
Just not with the same standing as team captain he once had.