NFL Rumors: New England Patriots Release Jonathan Cooper Before Tom Brady Return

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a history of turning around the careers of NFL players. Jonathan Cooper is not going to be one of his success stories. According to ESPN, the Patriots have decided to release Cooper. The team simply cannot wait for the talented guard to reach his potential.

Back in March, the New England Patriots surprised many in the NFL by trading away Chandler Jones, one of the better pass rushers in the league. The hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker was sent to the Arizona Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a second round draft pick.

While the New England Patriots liked having a disruptive force like Chandler Jones on defense, Bill Belichick is quite savvy when it comes to salary cap space. He knew that Jones was going to want a big pay day. Belichick did not feel that the Patriots could afford to make a deal happen.

Jonathan Cooper was basically a throw in, as he was considered a disappointment with the Arizona Cardinals. The team spent a seventh overall draft pick on the former North Carolina Tar Heels star. Cooper was supposed to have been an anchor on their offensive line, but that never came to fruition.

The key in the trade was the second round draft pick. Bill Belichick was able to parlay that selection from the Arizona Cardinals into a third and fourth round draft pick from the New Orleans Saints. The New England Patriots ended up choosing Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell with those picks.

Back in the spring, Jonathan Cooper had worked his way into the starting lineup. He was the right guard before a foot injury sidelined him. The New England Patriots were hoping that he would be able to recover in time to regain his starting job by the start of the regular season.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones

During his absence, Jonathan Cooper was replaced by Shaq Mason. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star has taken over the starting right guard position for the New England Patriots. Mason has become one of the man unheralded players that Bill Belichick has turned into a solid contributor.

Despite being just a rookie, Joe Thuney earned the starting left guard position with the New England Patriots. Dante Scarnecchia decided to come out of retirement and coach the offensive line for the Patriots again. Scarnecchia has a history of turning players like Thuney into instant contributors.

Bill Belichick has done really well with finding talent, but drafting wide receivers has not been one of his strengths over the years. Malcolm Mitchell is far from being a superstar in the NFL, but he has shown that he can be a solid contributor and role player for the New England Patriots.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick

Jonathan Cooper was scheduled to become a free agent in 2017. The release by the New England Patriots has sped up that process. Cooper and his agent will now attempt to convince another team in the NFL to give him a chance to see if he can salvage his career.

Since Jonathan Cooper could not make it on the field for the New England Patriots this year, that might actually help his cause because NFL teams do not know if he has regressed as a player. Teams might just assume that he was not healthy enough, so they might be willing to give him another chance.

Sometimes, NFL players need to put on several jerseys before they find themselves a place that they can call home. Jonathan Cooper obviously has enough talent. He just needs to be healthy enough to show teams that he belongs.

[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]