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Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

A shocking NFL trade. As first announced by Adam Schefter on Twitter, the Patriots are dealing Brandin Cooks -- after only one year in New England -- plus a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for the Rams' first-round pick (23rd overall) and a sixth-round pick. Cooks will fill the Sammy Watkins role in the Rams offense, opening up space underneath for Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The Patriots essentially rented Cooks for one year and used that year to upgrade from the 32nd pick in 2017 to the 23rd pick in 2018. This also probably means that the chances of Rob Gronkowski getting traded have dropped, and the chances of Odell Beckham getting traded... well, it probably won't be to the Rams.

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85 comments, Last at 13 Apr 2018, 11:59pm

1 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Its funny to think - a year ago around this time, the pats looked to have the deepest, most versatile wide receiving core in the nfl. One year later and its full of questions. You have amendola and cooks gone, leaving an oft injured Gronk, an acl recovering edleman, and hogan.

For the rams - I just don't see the reason they are going all in like this. Rarely has that plan worked out, but at least they aren't doing it by half measures.

5 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

"Oft injured Gronk" wasn't injured at all last season.

They also have Edelman, Hogan, Mitchell, Britt, Dorsett, and Patterson, in addition to White and Burkhead from the backfield. That's plenty. They badly need help at many other positions on the roster, including most notably on the offensive line and in the linebacker corps.

The Patriots didn't lose to the Eagles because Brady didn't have enough targets. They lost because the defense was dreadful.

And if they'd wanted to keep Cooks for the long term, they'd have had to pay through the nose for him next year.

Are the Rams this close to breaking through, that they'd pay so much for 1 year of a contract? I guess if they feel they have the cap room to retain Cooks, the deal makes sense.

20 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

""Oft injured Gronk" wasn't injured at all last season."

Uh... what? As was already pointed out, he had a concussion against the Jaguars and would've missed the next week's game if there had been one. But he also missed the Tampa Bay game due to a thigh bruise. No, he didn't have a major multi-week injury, and the thigh bruise isn't a long term worry or anything, but the concussion definitely is.

"The Patriots didn't lose to the Eagles because Brady didn't have enough targets. They lost because the defense was dreadful."

Ehhh...

I mean, you're right in the fact that if the defense had been better, they probably would've won. But it's not like losing Cooks didn't hurt, too. Your "that's plenty" assessment of their receiving corps seems really... optimistic.

Hogan/White/Burkhead/Dorsett/Britt combined for a grand total of ~34% of the team's receptions last year, and none of those guys are really people you can say "oh, they're young and on the rise, they'll have more catches next year." I mean, OK, you can figure that some RB will pick up Lewis's targets. Sure. But right now it really looks like the Patriots would have to rely on Gronkowski and Edelman to pick up the majority of the receptions. I dunno, that seems like a bit of a risky strategy considering one of them's a 32-year old coming off ACL surgery.

Not saying they should've kept Cooks, of course, you're absolutely right that from a price perspective there's no way they could keep him. I just would be really surprised if they didn't trade for another receiver.

39 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Another receiver in addition to Dorsett, Britt, and Patterson, all of whom have been added in the past 12 months?

They also have Mitchell and Edelman returning from the IR.

Is the position deeper with Cooks? Obviously. And he's better than anybody else that is still on the time (which is why he was the #1 WR). But they've made do with weaker WR corps in the past.

67 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

"Another receiver in addition to Dorsett, Britt, and Patterson, all of whom have been added in the past 12 months?"

Yes...? Would you really be surprised to see any of Britt, Dorsett, or Mitchell cut during training camp? Or even Patterson? They don't have any investment in any of those guys, at all.

"Is the position deeper with Cooks? Obviously. And he's better than anybody else that is still on the time (which is why he was the #1 WR). But they've made do with weaker WR corps in the past."

Yeah. They did. In 2013. For one of Tom Brady's worst seasons at his peak (which says a damn lot, mind you). Lowest ANY/A for a full season since 2006. Lowest passer rating for a full season since 2003. Lowest DYAR since 2003, and less than half the DYAR of the previous year. One receiver took over a quarter of the targets. Brady yelling at his receivers during games, and reportedly pissed off at the quality of his receivers.

Is this receiving group better than that one? If Edelman and Gronk are both fine for most of the year, sure, but not heads and shoulders above. And if one of those two goes down or isn't as effective as they've been, it's pretty close. If *both* of them do, you're solidly in 2013 category here.

Yes, in 2013, Brady still had 4000+ passing yards, the Patriots still went 12-4, blah blah blah. Sure. They'll still be a very good team. But it'll definitely be a step back with those receivers.

Again, don't get me wrong, trading Cooks still makes sense. Cost. Of course. And given how bad the defense was at times last year, devoting more resources there and going a little lean at WR makes sense. But that doesn't mean that it's still not going to be a weakness. It totally will be.

83 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I think the offensive line is the worry spot (Manning and Favre both looked indestructible, until they didn't). Gronk's probably the most valuable non-qb in the league. At this point, assuming they get hfa, it's hard not seeing 'lose the Super Bowl' as the floor for the Pats, as the rest of the AFC is currently constituted (though it's finally showing some signs of life)

8 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Very much looking forward to watching the Rams this year, but thinking beyond just pushing in the chips for 2018 and maybe 2019, it's hard to get over the fact that they won't be able to even come close to paying this new core of starters once all of their contracts expire (+ Goff option/extension) after the next 1-2 seasons. Plus they basically just threw out an entire draft class that they will need to draw from to replace those guys...

11 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

For the Rams (business wise), it's not about paying the future, it's all about building a fan base (that has been long gone) with big player names and wins now. In 2020, they won't care if the team can't pay contracts. They will have a new mega-palace complex that will wow the LA crowd and payoff big...especially from lots of traveling fans of visiting cold weather teams.

14 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Mike Tanier wrote about how teams are trying to emulate the Eagles success by capitalising on having a cheap rookie quarterback. I guess it's also what Seattle were able to do.

In some ways you could even point at Jacksonville's success last year, it's going to be a lot harder to keep their defense together with Bortles being paid $20m.

19 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Spotrac has the Rams with the second-most cap space available in 2019 (http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/cap/2019/), so they aren't in as dire shape as you imply here.

And as the Patriots (and to a lesser extent, the Broncos) have shown over the years, teams who are seriously contending for the Super Bowl become more attractive for free agents, so if the Rams' all-in efforts lead to them looking like an NFC juggernaut, they might be able to get more team-friendly deals (both for extensions and for free agent signings).

26 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

They have a lot of space in 2019 at this moment, but they also have a bunch of starters whose contracts expire after this season who are going to be very expensive: Brandin Cooks ($12-15 million), Rodger Saffold ($5-8 million), Suh ($15+ million), Donald (can he get $20 million on the open market?), and LaMarcus Joyner ($10-15 million).

After 2019, expiring contracts include Gurley, Brockers, Peters, Talib, and Whitworth. (I suppose the last two are old enough that they'll be as good as gone.) Also they'll have to exercise Goff's fifth-year option, which is the point in most circumstances where you'd want to extend him.

It's cool that they're going for it, but it's going to be hard to handle. They can only offer one franchise tag after 2018. Maybe they can use that to hold onto Donald at way below market value for another year—if he doesn't hold out, again. They might be able to get team-friendly terms from some of the other guys, but the younger players like Cooks and Joyner are certainly going to want long-term contracts, and so then the Rams will have to figure out how to fit those in with potential Gurley, Peters, Goff (and Donald if you push that off) extensions even though those are still another year off.

All teams have to play within the constraints of the cap and choose who to keep, cut, etc. The Rams will make their cap work for the players they most want to keep. But at that point they will have burned a lot of draft capital that would have brought in young, cheap contributors to plug the roster holes that emerge, and may be hard to bring even modest FA replacements with how much money they'll already be spending.

2 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Not quite so thin at WR for the Pats as you make it out, with Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett (and Kenny Britt!), Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell returning, and of course Cordarrelle Patterson.
Gronk only missed two games last year and one of those was for a suspension. Mitchell is a very good possession receiver, as I'm sure Atlanta remembers. Dorsett should show more than he did coming over late last year. Edelman might be declining.
It's also only April.
In the past, Brady has done well with quite a bit less.

21 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

So you're saying that trading Amendola/Cooks for Edelman/Mitchell isn't a downgrade? Really? Considering both are coming off of knee injuries (and this is what, Mitchell's 3rd right knee injury) and Edelman's 32?

"It's also only April."

Yeah, that I'll buy. I would be super-shocked to see the Patriots go into this year with their current receivers (and I'm not talking about late-round draft/free agent scrubs).

32 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Im a bit astonished at the confidence in a group featuring first round bust Philip Dorsett, 100 year old Kenny Britt, and ace special teams player masquerading as a wide receiver Corderrell Patterson. Even Malcolm Mitchell, fresh off an injury plagued year, is relatively green receiver so its hard to know what value he has.

The pats can work around this group, they have in the past, but its hardly the talented core it was a year ago and pretending like your losing some pocket change with Brooks and Amendola gone is absurd.

7 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I really doubt the Patriots trade up for a QB. They still don't have the ammunition to jump much higher than #5, and I doubt they could or would pay the price.

Conventional wisdom seems to be an early massive run on QBs, with potentially the top 5 going QB,QB,QB,RB,QB. There are a lot of ways this could be really wrong. If 3 QBs are sitting there at 7 and the Pats are interested in only 1 of them, they might trade up. But 4 teams in the top 5 needing QB, and then no other team needing one until 12, forecasting QBs in this draft is a fools errand.

4 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I doubt very much a trade for a QB. At least not in the first round. Too many homes to fill, especially on defense. They need a solid left tackle, pass rush and LB plus possibly a defensive back. I could see a QB in rounds 2 or 3.

9 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I'm conflicted as to whether I want the Pats to trade up for a QB. Maybe if Baker Mayfield is in striking distance...

But if they do, they will be doing so because they traded away Garappolo for a mid-2nd round pick (although to be fair,when they did it looked likely to be an early 2nd round pick). The end of the day calculus won't smile on that exchange.

They probably could have gotten at least that or even a first rounder for trading Brady. What would you rather have next year... Garoppolo and one more year of Cooks and an extra 1st rounder, or 1-2 more years of an aging Brady, no Cooks, and the perceived worst of the top-5 QB's this year to develop?

(What it boils down to is that Garoppolo is probably better than and certainly a safer bet than the worst of the top 5 QB's this year...arguably better than the best of the QB's this year...but that Pats only received a 2nd for his rights; whereas it would take two 1sts and then some to be in position to draft one of those 5. Of course, you would have to pay Garoppolo more...but at QB you should...)

10 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Of course, on the flip side, the calculus of the Cooks trade alone (without considering the Garoppolo trade) is pretty favorable to the Patriots. They traded the #32 pick in the 2017 draft for Cooks, got him for one year in which he helped them have the top offense in the NFL, and then traded him for the #23 pick (minus the difference between a 4th and 6th round pick) in the 2018 draft. So essentially, they traded a low 1st round pick for a year of Cooks and a higher 1st round pick the next year. Pretty good deal.

25 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

It does when you look at the salary cap costs. Garoppolo was going to get a high cap hit no matter how they kept him, and while Brady's hit is lower than other star QBs, it's still higher than a rookie. So if the Patriots think one of the available QBs this year is a good successor to Brady, it makes sense.

30 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Yeah, but an expensive QB who can play is better than a cheap QB who can't, and that's without even factoring in the cost in picks.

On the other hand, going by what they got in return, I suspect the Patriots didn't feel as strongly about Garoppolo. Another explanation is that the stories about the internal feuding are true.

31 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I think most people were genuinely surprised by just how good Jimmy G has been. I certainly was. Matt Cassel spectacularly flamed out, so I was pretty dubious about judging his performance in NE. After all, Jacoby Brissette was never better than sup par with Indy.

Given the information they had at the time, I don't fault the trade. I think the best answer was to franchise him, let Brady have one more season and then move on with Jimmy G, but that takes a lot of moxie and you're risking a Kirk Cousins situation - but that felt like the optimal move.

53 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

The 49ers, too, were surprised. They weren't sure whether they'd be keeping him, trading him, or franchising him. They weren't sure whether they'd be signing Kirk Cousins or using their #1 overall draft pick on a QB. All they knew was that they had a pretty good chance of somehow ending up with a franchise QB this year.

According to Shanahan, they knew they were set with Mr. G. by his third start, the one against the Titans. Then to cement the deal he went out and slaughtered the Jaguars the next week and they were officially ecstatic.

78 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

You describe Jacoby Brisset's first season in Indy as "sub-par." But he was always #3 in NE, so Garop's floor was basically par, then!

Seriously though, that he's succeeding isn't very surprising at all--there was always reason to expect he would be different than previous Brady caddies like Cassel--but maybe the magnitude of his success is, if he can keep it up.

Edit: it seems a little disingenuous to say the Niners were "surprised". Surely they expected to be keeping Garop, as they did spend an apparent high 2nd to get him. To their credit, they seemed to be open to different options without getting emotionally invested in sunk costs, but if they were genuinely surprised, then it was stupid to trade for him in the first place.

41 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Garoppolo was not staying in New England. He just signed a massive contract with the 49ers.
If the trade hadn't happened, he would have signed a massive contract for some team other than New England. So basically the Pats got a 2nd round pick instead of getting absolutely nothing after he left as a free agent.

If there were other teams that would have offered more for Garoppolo last November, they apparently didn't make that clear to Belichick.

There is an implied sentiment here that, had the Patriots not traded Garoppolo, he would still be a Patriot. Nothing could be further from the truth.

13 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Gronk, Edelman, Hogan, Mitchell, and the RBs (White & Burkhead) looks fine as a receiving corps - it's similar to what they put out there for most of 2016 (it's just missing Martellus Bennett, who had a bigger role with Gronk missing a bunch of time that year).

I expect them to add a WR and maybe a TE in the first half of the draft. That should help their depth (though obviously not as much as Cooks would've), and it'll give them a shot at replacing some of these guys in a year or two when their contracts or careers run out (which Cooks probably wouldn't have helped with, as it looks like they weren't willing to pay out big money to retain him).

22 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

"Gronk, Edelman, Hogan, Mitchell, and the RBs (White & Burkhead) looks fine as a receiving corps - it's similar to what they put out there for most of 2016"

Except for the fact that it's two years later and the major receiver there (Edelman) is coming off an ACL tear at 32. Fine is... not the word I'd use. There's no way you couldn't look at that list and be a little nervous - you'd have to imagine they'll try to get another "good" WR/TE to add in there. I'd kinda lean more towards a trade for at least one, though, since relying on inexperienced receivers to contribute isn't exactly typical.

84 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Well, Nelson did have one good year (he earned Comeback Player of the Year for it), and this last year it's hard to blame him. But Nelson was a bit younger, and there are plenty of other counterexamples.

I'd say the more curious thing is the comment that Edelman will be okay because he's not a speed receiver. I mean, you're saying it's an injury to the joint that literally takes all of the strain when you make cuts is no problem to a receiver that relies on... making cuts? Honestly, if Edelman comes back at anything close to 2016 levels that doctor deserves a hell of a lot of respect.

16 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

When I initially read the headline I thought this was quizzical move; After reading the package they got I think this was just a "price" move on a player the Pats broadly liked. Consider that the Rams paid a second round pick and a spare part (E.J. Gains) for a similar player in a similar contractual situation (Sammy Watkins) last year - I think it may be that BB simply viewed it as an over-pay offer for a very good receiver and took advantage.

From a Pats perspective I like this move as it looks like some top-end positional talent might still be available in the middle of the first round due to the scramble for QB's and the Pats could really use a high end LB, DE, DT, T or TE (basically any of the positions that you never get a shot at when your top draft picks the last three years have been 83, 60, & 32).

57 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

It wasn't just a gimmick either. He played a playoff game as a slot defending db. I get that he had a ton of help with the linebackers and safeties and the pats defensive scheme overall was very smart, but still - hes a freaking wide receiver out there.

I remember Jerry Rice was like...if a slot receiver guarded me and i didn't slaughter him, I'm retiring from pro football the next day.

43 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Before Troy moved to the slot, he was actually a pretty good outside WR.

Prime Welker made First-Team All-Pro as a slot receiver. I still have to deal with legions of Pats' fans who blame a Super Bowl loss on his inability to rotate 270 degrees and catch a pass - in a game where the defense was horrid.

At least with the recent defensive failure, nobody is blaming the offense.

50 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Not an easy catch, but IMO Welker probably grabs that pass 19 of 20 times, especially since it was more lofted than zipped, giving him more time to make the move. Had it been more accurately thrown, Welker probably gets down close to the 10, or farther, but even with him catching and going to the ground (due to the awkward but necessary spin move), the Pats are well into FG range with a FD. Too bad the Giants hex was still in effect.

55 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

This is really interesting - as a guy who watched every snap of Welker's Pat's career I always thought his skillset was deeply misunderstood. Welker's most important skill was his ability to read coverage consistently the same way as Brady and not allow his route to get disrupted by contact. This ability allowed him to get 50+ uncontested catches per year. People then looked at the catch numbers that came out of that and assumed that he had both great hands and great quickness - neither of which were ever at the top of his skills list (though he was quick and agile, and had decent hands). I think if you watch them it's pretty clear Amandola was more physically skilled in every regard then Welker was, but was never as productive even when completely healthy because he never had the same mental game.

When I look at the play in the Superbowl, the mistake on that play was Welker/Brady pulling different reads on the coverage - I think those who expected Welker to make a catch like that with a serious body-adjustment really over-estimate his physical skills as a receiver and underestimate the mental side of his game. They likely win the game if Brady/Welker are on the same page on that play - but expecting Welker to make that catch without the right read I think is to miss-understand him.

66 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

The "decent hands" (not great) brings to mind the Jan 2008 game against the Jags, in which TB was 26-of-28. The first INC was a contested pass toward Watson. The 2nd, late in the game, was a well-thrown pass to a wide open, facing the QB, Welker. Fortunately, the drop was a non-factor.

One problem with the SB play is that Welker was facing the hashmarks and Brady, seeing a DB that might've been close enough to make a play, threw slightly toward the sideline, forcing the Welker twist.

59 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

Exactly. Brady made the (IMHO) correct read that the safety was coming over from the middle of the field and was going to destroy Welker if Brady threw it to the inside shoulder. He therefore threw it to the outside shoulder. Welker made the (IMHO) wrong read and was looking for the inside shoulder and adjusted too late. Still should have caught it, though.

23 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I don't think the Pats will trade up to 4 for a quarterback. It doesn't seem Belichick's way. They could get Lauletta or Mike White without trading up at all; If they want Lamar Jackson, they just need to trade past Buffalo, which could be tough considering how much draft ammunition the Bills have. I would be surprised if Orlando Brown gets drafted before their pick, and he would probably fill the hole Solder left at tackle. We'll see; it's going to be an interesting draft day for the AFC East.

36 Re: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I guess the million dollar question is, are the Patriots drafting for the future or drafting for the present. They only have Brady a year or so more and I can't see the other three teams in the division competing in 2018 for the division title...it sure feels like their time is now.

44 Re: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

The Cooks trade is the first sign that Belichick is continuing to keep the long term as a priority. I had thought he was going all-in for 2018. But if he wanted to do that, he would have kept Cooks for this season.

But hey - maybe with two first round picks he'll trade up and get the stud left tackle the team badly needs.

63 Re: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

OBJ would never fly on the Patriots. They will get further without him than with him. Way too many holes to fill to rent that but case for one year. No way the Patriots will pay him close to $20 mil a year. He is no where near half as valuable as Gronkowski. No thans. Let’s use those 2 picks to address the needs of the team like tackle, LB, pass rush etc.

73 Re: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

If the Patriots want to trade up for Baker Mayfield, I'm down with that; if they trade up for any other QB, I'm going to be cheesed off.

I actually expect them to trade one of the two first rounders down into the second round, grab an additional second next year, and cause me to have wasted my time watching the draft.

75 Re: Patriots Deal Brandin Cooks to Rams

I am not so sure, if there is a run on QB’s in the top half of the round then a lot of other position players who would have gone higher will get pushed down the board this giving the Pat’s a shot at a player they normally would not have a chance at. I hope that is the case.