New England Patriots fans probably shouldn’t shed tears over the team trading Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams.
Why? Because Tom Brady reportedly isn’t.
The Pats surprisingly traded the speedy-yet-inconsistent wideout to Los Angeles on Tuesday. And although Brady now will be without another of his weapons from last season, the Patriots quarterback isn’t exactly torn up about the deal, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.
We know, we know: Cooks had some big games last year, and 1,000-plus receiving yards and seven touchdowns are nothing to snuff at. But numbers don’t tell the entire story with the 24-year-old.
Cooks essentially had two standout regular-season games as a Patriot: Five catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3 against the Houston Texans, and six catches for 149 yards and a score in Week 11 against the Oakland Raiders. Aside from those contests, he topped 90 receiving yards just once.
The real issue with Cooks was his inability to form a reliable connection with Brady. The Patriots rely on their No. 1 receivers to make difficult catches and pick up tough yards in big situations, and Cooks often failed to deliver in those scenarios. For all his talents and athletic ability, Cooks caught just 57 percent of passes thrown his way in 2017, and Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 36th best wideout in the NFL — which means he was “average,” according to PFF’s scale.
Let’s compare those numbers with those of former NFL wideout Brandon Lloyd, whose 2012 season with the Pats is viewed by many as a disappointment.
Lloyd recorded 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns that season with a catch percentage of 56.5. And Lloyd and Cooks posted similar numbers during their lone postseason runs in New England: 12 catches for 102 yards and a TD in two games for Lloyd, and 10 catches for 155 yards and no scores in three games for Cooks.
To be fair: Cooks’ yards-per-reception rate of 16.65 in 2017 (seventh in NFL) was much better than Lloyd’s 12.31 in 2012 (62nd in the league). Still, neither player ever became essential cogs in New England’s bread-and-butter “dink-and-dunk” offense.
Now let’s look at the 2017 numbers for Danny Amendola, a player who arguably was more crucial to the team’s success, especially in the postseason.
Amendola racked up 61 catches for 659 yards and just two TDs — hardly eye-opening stats. But his 70.9 percent catch percentage proves he was more reliable than cooks, and his 25th-overall ranking on PFF suggests he actually was a better player than his speedy counterpart.
The takeaway: Weep for the loss of Amendola, not the departure of Cooks, and pray that Julian Edelman somehow returns to his pre-injury level of performance.
At the end of the day, Cooks obviously is a good, if not very good NFL receiver. But he’s probably more suited for the Rams’ high-flying offense than he is for the gritty attack of the Patriots, who moved on after trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
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