The New England Patriots on Friday made a blockbuster deal to get wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a package of draft picks — including the Patriots’ first-round selection in the 2017 draft.
That pick will be the 32nd overall, due to the fact that the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions heading into the 2017 season. According to early reports, the trade does not include New England cornerback Malcolm Butler.
— All 22 (@all22) March 11, 2017
The Patriots also sent their third-round pick this year to New Orleans in the deal, the 103rd pick overall in the draft, which begins on April 27 this year.
Cooks himself was a first-round pick himself just three years ago, going to the Saints out of Oregon State with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
It was only yesterday, March 9, that reports circulated in the press claiming that the Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick, who is also in charge of personnel decisions for the franchise, were prepared to send their Super Bowl 49 hero Butler to New Orleans to get Cooks. Butler is a restricted free agent and stands to sign a $3.91 million with the Patriots — or any team that he ends up with if he were to be dealt.
But it appears as of late Friday that Butler will remain a Patriot, at least for the time being, and Cooks — who is only 23 years old — will join the receiving corps that catches passes from 40-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.
While Saints fans reacting on social media were unhappy with the trade to say the least, the receiver would have been due a signing bonus payment of $781,599 if he remained with the team on Monday, March 13.
— I’M DATMAN (@SaintsDatMan) March 11, 2017
But that near-$800,000 check will now need to be written by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Cooks put together the best season of his so-far short career in 2016, appearing in all 16 Saints games, catching 78 passes for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns. He also boasted the NFL’s longest single reception last season, a 98-yard catch from Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders.
Watch Cooks make that spectacular play, which was also the longest single passing play in Saints franchise history, in the video below.
Cooks, despite his undersized stature at only 5 feet 10 inches and 189 pounds, brings an element of blinding speed to the Patriots offensive attack that has been lacking from a receiving corps that now includes Julian Edelman, second-year wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, and potential Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Cooks used that speed to average 15 yards per catch last season.
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The deal for Cooks capped a busy trading week for the Patriots, with New England also reeling in tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday and, also on Friday, defensive end Kony Ealy from the Carolina Panthers.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]