It appears as though the New England Patriots are putting all cards on the table in defense of their Super Bowl title.
Hitting free agency with an uncommon aggression, landing a few important pieces in free agency, New England made a trade with the New Orleans Saints on Friday that can best be described with one word: “wow”.
First reported by ESPN’s Diana Russini, the Patriots received wide receiver Brandin Cooks and New Orleans' fourth-round 2017 NFL Draft pick (No. 118) in exchange for their first-round pick (No. 32) and third-round selection (No. 103).
Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler had previously been discussed as a possible trade chip, but he couldn’t be part of the trade due to the fact that he’s a restricted free agent who didn’t sign the tender that he was offered by New England. Therefore, he isn’t technically under contract right now, making him ineligible to trade.
Cooks, a 5’10”, 189-pound wideout with elite speed, caught 78 passes for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns for Drew Brees and the Saints in 2016 and is still just 23-years-old.
Best suited as a slot receiver, Cooks is expected to fit right into New England’s offense that features a variety of screens and short passes designed to allow receivers to create after the catch.
He also is one of the best deep threats in the entire NFL, as evidenced below.
Every NFL trade receives both praise and scrutiny, but this one in particular sparked a ton of tweets, as you can imagine.
A number of angry Saints fans chimed in, obviously upset that Drew Brees’ top target is now gone. A number of other NFL fans that have an eternal disdain for New England also voiced their disapproval.
However, Patriots fans were quite thrilled, as you may expect.
Now thrust into one of the best offenses in the NFL, Cooks will have an opportunity to be the big-play, downfield receiving threat that the Patriots have desired for many years despite their unparalleled success.
Most shockingly, Cooks is one of just three NFL receivers to post at least 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
Those other two guys, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., are widely recognized as top five (if not top three) receivers in the entire NFL.
It’s amazing to watch from afar as the Patriots continue to operate at such a high level, both on the field and in the front office.
The Patriots continue to play chess while the rest of the NFL plays checkers. Defending their Lombardi Trophy seems like a very real possibility, especially with an explosive weapon like Cooks for Tom Brady to utilize.
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