Brandin Cooks spent all of one season in New England before the Patriots decided to move on from the speedy wide receiver.
New England shipped Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 23rd overall pick in this month’s draft, one year after acquiring him for a first-rounder.
As part of the deal, the Patriots also sent a fourth-round pick (136 overall) and received a sixth-round selection (198) back from Los
Cooks was one of Tom Brady’s primary weapons this past season, serving as the vertical threat in New England’s offence. He hauled in 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, while his mark of 16.6 yards per reception and 18 catches of 20-plus yards ranked seventh and eighth in the NFL, respectively.
His speed and ability to beat defenders allowed Brady to attack downfield more than he had in years. And at 24, Cooks is still near the front-end of his prime as one of the star receivers in the league.
So why did the Patriots, who are very much in the middle of a championship window with an aging Brady, trade away one of their best playmakers?
Bill Belichick is known for moving on from players before they begin to decline, but that’s not what this trade is about. Instead, it has more to do with getting value for a player who New England may not have wanted to pay a premium for.
When the Patriots sent the 32nd overall pick in last year’s draft to acquire Cooks from the New Orleans Saints, they likely did so with the intention of keeping him for at least two seasons on the tail end of his rookie contract – including the fifth-year option for 2018 that will pay him nearly $8.5 million.
But with receivers like Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins earning deals this offseason that will pay them around $15m annually, New England may have felt dissuaded by their chances of keeping Cooks on an appealing contract after this coming year.
Watkins also indirectly factors into the Cooks trade in another way. With the wideout having left the Rams for the Kansas City Chiefs, it created a vacancy for Los Angeles to fill with another deep threat capable of stretching the field.
The Rams reportedly inquired about New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr, but preferred the option of Cooks. With the reigning NFC West champions trying to fill a need and continuing to be aggressive in the trade market to assemble a win-now roster, the Patriots likely saw an opportunity to extract maximum value for Cooks.
New England now have two first-rounders (23 and 31 overall), two second-rounders (43 and 63) to play with ahead of or during the draft. Belichick has given himself plenty of flexibility to bolster the roster in a number of different ways, whether that means using the picks on impact rookies, trading up to select a top prospect, trading down to accumulate more assets, or – the most proactive option – using them in a trade for a star.
It’s impossible to escape the speculation that the Cooks trade is potentially a precursor to a trade for Beckham.
The Giants probably aren’t actively shopping Beckham, but have reportedly told teams that price for the mercurial wide receiver would be two first-round picks. And it just so happens that the Patriots now have two first-round picks.
As fun as it would be to imagine Brady and Beckham on the same field destroying defences, it’s more fantasy than reality. New England, under Belichick, have never been the type of team to give up valuable, cost-controlled assets for star players. Even when they traded for Randy Moss in 2007, they bought low with a fourth-round pick.
Perhaps Brady’s ticking clock – and maybe Belichick’s as well – could change the Patriots’ approach, but it’s more likely the Cooks trade has nothing to do with Beckham and is more telling of the confidence they have in their current receiving corps of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Rob Gronkowski, who looks like he’ll be back after contemplating retirement.
But even if Beckham isn’t on the way, New England should now have more moves up their sleeve.
The Rams reached an agreement with the defensive tackle on a one-year, $14 million deal on Monday, giving them another premier playmaker on a defence that has gone from good to great this offseason.
While Donald was the Defensive Player of the Year last season and a First-team All-Pro for three years running, Suh has a little bit to prove at his new stop.
After racking up 8.5 sacks in his final season with Detroit in 2014, the 31-year-old managed 15.5 sacks in total over three seasons in Miami, despite playing all 16 games each year.
Suh, however, still ranked top 10 in the NFL in total pressures on the defensive interior every season in Miami, according to Pro Football Focus, so it’s not as if he’s declining in a major way, as his raw stats might suggest.
Now paired with Donald, Suh’s job is likely to get much easier with opposing offences throwing more of their attention and double teams at his teammate.
Between them, the Rams are set up to wreak havoc with pressure up the middle to disrupt quarterbacks, and ball-hawks in the secondary to jump on errant passes.
Los Angeles went 11-5 last season with a middling defence that allowed the 19th-most yards per game (339.6) and 12th-most points (20.6.).
With defensive coordinator Wade Phillips now having new toys to work with, it’s fair to wonder if the Rams have closed the gap on the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles to be a frontrunner at the top of the NFC.
For Suh, the one-year contract means he’ll have the opportunity to both contend for a title and build-up his value – potentially to the level it was in the offseason he signed with the Dolphins – before hitting free agency again.
The NFL star has been indicted by a Harris County grand jury on a felony charge of injury of the elderly, and as a result has a warrant out for his arrest, according to KHOU.com.
The alleged incident took place after the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, with Bennett pushing a 66-year-old paraplegic NRG Stadium worker to get on the field as players were celebrating. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, was playing tight end for the Patriots in the game.
Bennett was told to use a different entrance for field access, but he instead pushed through security personnel, which included the 66-year-old woman.
The felony charge includes intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a person aged 65 or older and carries with it a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
News of the indictment comes a little more than two weeks after Bennett was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Philadelphia Eagles along with a 2018 seventh-round pick, in exchange for wide receiver Marcus Johnson and a 2018 fifth-round selection.
In August of 2017, Bennett had another brush with the law when he was involved in an incident in Las Vegas which saw him detained outside of a nightclub after the Conor McGregor–Floyd Mayweather Jr fight.
Police were looking for an active shooter and detained Bennett, who accused police officers of racially profiling him. The Las Vegas Police Department denied Bennett’s claims after an internal investigation.