While NFL rumors of the New England Patriots trading quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo have quieted down since the hacked Instagram post from this morning was removed, the Super Bowl 51 champions have made some moves to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and defensive end Kony Ealy from the Carolina Panthers. With some reports indicating that Pats linebacker Dont’a Hightower may be headed to the Tennessee Titans, it’s clear that New England has some changes in mind, just two months after proving that they’re the best team in the NFL.
Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver
As if Tom Brady and the New England offense needed another target as a legitimate threat to the opposing defense, they acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks and the Saints fourth-round draft pick on Friday, as reported by Inquisitr. In exchange, they gave up their own first-round draft pick (No. 32 overall) and the third-round compensatory pick (No. 132 overall) they received in another deal from the Cleveland Browns. As reported by the Boston Herald, Cooks only has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but was a proven play-maker under Drew Brees. In two seasons with New Orleans, Cooks averaged better than 80 catches for 1100 yards and 8 touchdowns per season.
Kony Ealy, Defensive End
It wasn’t long after the Carolina Panthers announced the signing of Julius Peppers that they also announced they had traded Kony Ealy to the New England Patriots. As noted by Sports Illustrated, his outstanding performance in Super Bowl 50 (three sacks, one interception, one forced fumble) was followed by a season that didn’t improve much on 2015. New England gave up their second-round draft pick (No. 64 overall) and received Carolina’s third-round pick (No. 72 overall) along with Ealy. The Patriots acquired Ealy by moving down eight selections in the NFL Draft.
Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker
One big name that could be leaving New England is linebacker Dont’a Hightower. As reported by Music City Miracles, multiple sources have said that the Tennessee Titans will likely sign Hightower. Arguably the best free agent remaining in the NFL, there’s no guarantee that he’ll return to New England for a chance at back-to-back Super Bowl rings. The rumors remain just rumors at this time, although it seems likely at this point that he will re-sign with the Patriots or make the jump to the Titans.
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Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback
As previously reported by Inquisitr, the rumors that New England had traded Tom Brady’s back-up Jimmy Garoppolo were tied to a post from Jimmy’s Instagram account, which had been hacked. The Patriots have since indicated that they are not actively seeking to trade Garoppolo, even if there are teams who may be interested.
NFL Free Agency officially began on Thursday, March 9. The 2017 NFL Draft will take place over three days, April 27-29, at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The 2017 NFL Season begins on September 7. Although the official 2017 schedule for the New England Patriots has not yet been released, the opponents they’re facing have been. Aside from the AFC East (Jets, Dolphins and Bills), the Patriots will host the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, and Kansas City Chiefs. New England will travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos.
[Featured Image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]