The Patriots have acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick in 2017 from the Saints in exchange for first- and third-round picks this year, tweets Dianna Russini of ESPN. New England will receive the 118th selection, while Nos. 32 and 103 will go to New Orleans.
The Titans were also involved in the Cooks sweepstakes, but he’ll join the reigning Super Bowl champions instead. New England will now assume responsibility for the $781,599 bonus Cooks is due Monday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).
As of Thursday, the Patriots were reportedly considering sending cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Saints in exchange for Cooks. It’s still possible Butler will end up in New Orleans in a separate trade, according to Schefter, while Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that Butler couldn’t be a part of this deal because the restricted free agent is without a contract at the moment (Twitter link).
Still only 23 years old, Cooks was eminently productive in New Orleans during the first three seasons of his career and will now team with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, among others, in a loaded group of targets for Pats quarterback Tom Brady. Cooks is coming off his second straight 16-game, 1,100-yard campaign. The 5-foot-10, 189-pounder also combined for 162 catches and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Cooks will come with a modest $1.56MM price tag in 2017, but after a fifth-year option season at approximately $8.5MM, it’s possible he’ll enter eight-figure-per-year territory on his next contract. Barring an extension before then, the Patriots will have an opportunity to see how Cooks fares in their offense before deciding on his long-term future. New Orleans, meanwhile, still has a pair of high-end receivers in Willie Snead and Michael Thomas, thereby rendering Cooks expendable in the club’s estimation. The likelihood is the Saints will look to strengthen their defense with their newly acquired first-rounder.