Patriots gridiron news: Why trading Brandin Cooks was no big surprise

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots looks at Brandin Cooks
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots looks at Brandin Cooks /

The New England Patriots sent waves through the NFL Tuesday by trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams. 

Just like that, the New England Patriots have two first-round draft picks and are once again searching for a deep threat.

In a shocking, but not so surprising move, the Patriots are trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The deal also includes New England’s fourth-round pick going to L.A. and a sixth-round pick coming back to the Patriots.

The trade instantly opens up many possibilities for the Patriots.  Not only has it added fuel to a potential, although not likely, trade for Odell Beckham Jr., Bill Belichick now has the type of trade stock to move up in the draft or stockpile more draft picks in the second and/or third round.

Of course, Belichick will likely do something no one sees coming, but with the way he has been touring college campuses, there must be some young players he really sees as fits for the team.  Players he now has the opportunity to draft, like tight end Hayden Hurst or linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Better yet, the Patriots could move up enough to take one of the top 5 quarterbacks.  Suddenly Baker Mayfield or even Josh Rosen seem possible.

Back to Cooks

Aside from a game-winning catch against the Houston Texans and a few deep bombs, what stood out about Brandin Cooks in 2017 were the passes he didn’t catch and the head-scratching plays he made in Super Bowl LII.

This is not bashing a player on his way out. It is just compliment to how high the expectations were of the speedy wide receiver.  In all, he had 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns which was great for the kind of weapons Tom Brady had at his disposal.

But, entering the final year of his rookie deal, there was probably no way the New England Patriots were going to pay him or any receiver the type of money he would demand.  In fact, the $8.459 million he was due to earn this year clears up some cap space for the Patriots.

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With Julian Edelman and Malcom Mitchell returning from injury along with a receiving group that includes Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister, Cooks and his contract was expendable.

Perhaps some of that money will now go to a restructured contract of either Tom Brady and/or Rob Gronkowski.  Maybe Belichick has something else cooking, but no one should be shocked by the trade.

And no one should suddenly expect this deal to turn into an Odell Beckham Jr. deal. 

Around the AFC East

Buffalo Bills: Speaking of Baker Mayfield, it appears the product of Oklahoma will likely land in the AFC East.

With all four teams looking for a quarterback, Mayfield has drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins who have the No. 11 pick in the draft.  In fact, the Dolphins and now the Buffalo Bills will host the Heisman Trophy winner for a pre-draft visit.

If either team gets a good vibe from Mayfield, expect him not to drop any lower than that No. 11 spot to the Dolphins.  If he slides, the Patriots now have the ammunition to jump up in the draft to select him.

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That is, if they feel he is the type of quarterback to eventually succeed Tom Brady.