Were you an opposing defense scared of facing the New England Patriots’ offense in 2016? Well, we have some tremendously bad news for you: They will be exponentially better in 2017.
The Patriots reportedly acquired Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints on Friday, giving Tom Brady an absolutely bonkers bevy of weapons. He now can throw to Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, James White, Dion Lewis, Dwayne Allen, Malcolm Mitchell, maybe Danny Amendola and an as-yet signed big running back.
The Patriots have endless options with personnel groupings, fielding quality weapons in three-receiver, four-receiver, two-tight end and two-running back sets. And Cooks adds another versatile receiver to a group that already can align anywhere on the field.
Cooks has the quickness to align in the slot and the speed to stretch the field on the perimeter.
The 23-year-old speedster tore up the combine coming out of Oregon State in 2014, with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, 1.54-second 10-yard split, 6.76-second three-cone, 3.81-second short shuttle, 36-inch vertical leap and 10-foot broad jump.
The move does come with a risk and a ceiling. Cooks is under contract through 2018, and if all goes as planned, it will be difficult to re-sign him after his rookie contract runs out. There’s also a reason he was traded by the Saints. It’s possible he’ll wind up happier with New England, but it seems he forced his way out of New Orleans rather than vice versa.
It seems unlikely the Patriots would take on a player they don’t believe they can handle, but it’s not a small bounty to give up for Cooks either. The Patriots shipped out their first-round draft pick and a third-round selection for Cooks and a fourth-rounder. A first-round pick would have been under New England’s control for five seasons, while Cooks might be around for just two.
Cooks comes with the guarantee of being a quality player, however, while there’s much less certainty while picking late in the first round.
Acquiring Cooks was not a steal, but he does make the Patriots’ offense much better in the short term, and it’s worth noting they didn’t need to give up Malcolm Butler in the trade, though they reportedly still could move their cornerback.
The Patriots now don’t have draft picks in the first or second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. How can they recoup them? By trading a certain backup quarterback. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is adamant it’s not happening, but you never can say never with Bill Belichick.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Images