After waiting to be sent elsewhere for close to a calendar year (if not longer, depending on who you ask), Cooks is happy to be in Dallas with the Cowboys, where he sees an opportunity to make an impact on a team that expects to win.
"I couldn't be more hungry," Cooks said. "Last three years, it is what it is. But when you step into a locker room like this and an organization, and you got those three years under your belt like that, I mean, it's definitely fueling the fire and that hunger to be able to come out here and just show up and help my team win. I can't wait. I truly can't."
Cooks spoke Monday as if he'd just been freed from the shackles of NFL mediocrity, if not irrelevance. After three years in Houston, it's understandable. Cooks finally has a chance to perform for a club that isn't knee-deep in a rebuilding effort that has included head-coaching changes in each of the last three offseasons.
What he'll find in Dallas is a Cowboys team equipped with a solidified starting quarterback and a belief it can win its division in 2023. The Cowboys nearly did so in 2022 -- much like Cooks nearly ended up joining them for their late-season push for a division title.
Despite being traded three times in his career already, Cooks pined for a trade from Houston for quite a while. Dallas was in search of a receiver and mentioned as a possible trade partner with Houston to acquire Cooks last year, but a deal never materialized.
Cooks' frustration with Houston's inability to trade him came to a head just after the deadline passed during the 2022 season and Cooks remained on Houston's roster, leading to an absence from team activities and the Texans' stripping of his captain status.
As it turns out, all Cooks had to do was wait a few more months to receive his wish.
"Better late that never," Cooks said, via WFAA's Mike Leslie. "I'm extremely excited. It's a great fit. You talk about a world class organization, that I look forward to being a part of."
Dallas' deal for Cooks marks the fourth time the speedy receiver has been dealt in his decade spent in the NFL. Drafted by New Orleans in 2014, Cooks was shipped to New England in 2017, then sent to Los Angeles in 2018. He landed in Houston in 2020, just as the Texans were headed toward the start of their grueling rebuild.
Cooks didn't let his performance falter, recording consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2020 and 2021. But by the time 2022 arrived, it became clear he wasn't going to receive a legitimate chance to pursue a championship with Houston.
Now that he's been traded a fourth time -- tied with linebacker Kiko Alonso for the most for a single player since 1994 -- Cooks has an opportunity to play for a contender. He doesn't take any of his trades personally. If anything, he sees them as compliments.
"I'm just fortunate enough to be able to play for so many great organizations and make an impact in this league being everywhere I've been," Cooks said. "It excites me. I think it's special because I didn't get to free agency, so people are jumping the gun in order to get to me before I get there. So that's the way I look at it. I look at it in a positive way."
After struggling through three seasons in Houston, Cooks is surprisingly optimistic. It's hard not to be when you get a chance to wear the star on your helmet.