The New Orleans Saints boasted the top-ranked offense in 2016. Unfortunately, not the same could be said for the team’s defense, which finished No. 27¬†in the NFL. This is why head coach Sean Payton is open to trading former 2014 first-round pick, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, even though he spoke about the receiver in glowing terms.

“Brandin’s someone that, I mean, we think the world of. I love him,” Payton said, per ESPN. “Not only is he a great player, he is a special guy.”

The Saints have plenty of talent on offense, which is why they might be able to swap Cooks for assets that assist in them improving their defense. Payton explained that the team needs to look at all options, whether it be during free agency or the draft, to find pieces to bolster their defensive efforts.

Payton conveyed that they are keeping Cooks in the loop and they are not just “going around the combine” trying to openly trade him.

Payton’s sentiment towards Cooks seemed genuine. Although, Cooks made it known recently that he wants a trade. He seems adamant about getting out of New Orleans and finding a different offense to work with.

Cooks may have felt he played second fiddle to first-year wideout Michael Thomas last year. Thomas led the team with 92 catches compared to Cooks’ 78.

Reportedly, the Titans are the front runner team to land Cooks at this time. They currently have Pick No. 5 and 18 and could potentially strike some type of deal with Payton and Co. involving one of the picks.

If that occurred, it would be shocking if the Saints didn’t spend it on a defensive player in April’s draft.

Cooks will be a name we see frequently throughout the news this week.