Brandin Cooks

Reaction To Brandin Cooks Trade

A year after acquiring him from the Saints, the Patriots shipped wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the Rams in exchange for first- and sixth-round picks. Let’s take a look at some of the reaction to and fallout from the blockbuster deal:

  • Before trading him to Los Angeles, the Patriots engaged in extension talks with Cooks, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. However, those discussions stalled as the two sides were simply too far apart. Cooks is scheduled to earn $8.459MM in 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option, but he’s likely looking for at least $14MM annually on a new deal. The Rams, for their part, have reportedly already expressed interest in extending Cooks’ contract, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Los Angeles is “intent” on doing so. Florio, however, indicates there is as of yet no timeline for a long-term pact to get done.
  • The Rams and Patriots had discussed a possible Cooks trade for more than a month, well before Los Angeles ever contacted the Giants regarding fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr., according to Schefter (Twitter link). Los Angeles preferred Cooks, and the price tag — New York is reportedly looking for at least two first-round picks in exchange for OBJ — likely played a role in that stance. Talks between the Patriots and Rams heated up on Monday when head coaches Bill Belichick and Sean McVay worked at the same coaching clinic, and those talks ultimately led to a trade on Tuesday, per Schefter (Twitter link).
  • Los Angeles finally acquired Cooks on Tuesday after attempting to land him from the Saints last year, as Rams general manager Les Snead tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com. The Rams did not hold a first-round pick a season ago while the Patriots did, allowing New England to make the better offer for Cooks. Los Angeles, meanwhile, discussed a deal involving then-franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but the talks never gained traction. For what it’s worth, the Rams actually tried to trade Johnson twice in 2017: once for Cooks, and once in exchange for a second-round pick, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • The Patriots never viewed Cooks as a true No. 1 wide receiver, per Rapoport (Twitter link), and quarterback Tom Brady is “not sad” about the trade. While Cooks topped 1,000 yards receiving in his lone New England campaign, he wasn’t a perfect fit for the Patriots’ offense, says Rapoport. Theoretically, New England could shift back to a more horizontal offense based around incumbent receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan now that Cooks is no longer in town.
  • Although the Rams have now eschewed a hypothetical Beckham trade in favor of acquiring Cooks, the “frenzy” surrounding the mercurial Giants receiver doesn’t figure to subside, as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes. Still, a Beckham deal remains “highly unlikely,” as Los Angeles’ payment for Cooks doesn’t come anywhere close to what New York would want in exchange for Beckham.

Rams Want To Extend Brandin Cooks’ Deal

The Rams aren’t wasting any time in getting down to business with Brandin Cooks. The Rams have already expressed interest in extending the wide receiver’s contract, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (on Twitter). 

Cooks is entering his contract year and will carry a cap number just under $8.5MM. Having sacrificed a first-round pick for him, the Rams were expected to try and lock him up for the long term, but not necessarily this quickly. Keeping with the theme of this offseason, L.A. is moving quickly and aggressively on this front.

A new deal for Cooks won’t come cheap. This offseson, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans inked a five-year, $82.5MM extension with $55MM in overall guarantees. The deal, which could balloon to nearly $96MM through incentives, stands as the new watermark for receivers in terms of overall value. Evans is also second in average annual value at $17MM/year, trailing only Steelers superstar Antonio Brown. Cooks may not command a deal to match Evans, but he won’t be far off, either.

Cooks, a former first round pick out of Oregon State, had 65 grabs for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Between 2015 and 2016 for New Orleans, he averaged 81 grabs for 1,156 yards and eight scores.

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Patriots Won’t Pursue Odell Beckham Jr.

The Patriots have picked up another first-round pick thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade, leading to speculation that they could parlay their draft capital into a trade for Odell Beckham Jr. The word, for now, is that will not be happening. The Cooks deal is not a precursor to an attempt to land Beckham, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears (on Twitter). 

The Giants are seeking at least two first-round picks for Beckham and the Patriots now have selections at No. 23 and No. 31 in the current draft to work with. However, the Patriots are believed to have traded Cooks in part because he is entering his contract year. Trading for Beckham Jr. would put the Patriots in an even more expensive predicament than they were facing with Cooks, not to mention the sacrifice of serious draft value.

Beckham, 26 in November, was among the game’s most spectacular wide receivers up until an injury cut his 2017 season short. In 2016, OBJ had 101 catches for 1,367 yards and ten touchdowns en route to his third career Pro Bowl selection. He’d be exceptionally dangerous in the Patriots’ offense, but it sounds like that dream scenario won’t be coming to fruition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Trade Brandin Cooks To Rams

The Patriots have traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Rams, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The deal will see Cooks and a fourth round pick head to Los Angeles. In return, the Pats will receive a first-round pick and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. 

The Pats now have the No. 23 overall pick in the draft to pair with their original selection at No. 31. With those two selections, the Pats could conceivably explore trades to get into the top half of the first round or keep them in order to fill multiple urgent needs. Further down the line, the Patriots also own two second round picks at Nos. 43 and 63.

The Rams have been extremely aggressive this offseason and Cooks is just the latest high-profile addition, joining the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. In recent weeks, the Rams have been tied to Giants superstar Odell Beckham Jr., but they have found a different standout wide receiver in Cooks. The Pats, meanwhile, could hypothetically turn their attention to OBJ now that they are armed with two first-round picks, but that apparently is not in the cards.

Cooks may not be of the very top tier of wide receivers like OBJ, but he’s not far off. The former first-round pick does not turn 25 until September and has three consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons under his belt. Last year, he set a new career high with 16.6 yards per reception while finding the end zone seven times.

Cooks will now serve as the Rams’ top receiver, arguably giving the team an upgrade over the departed Sammy Watkins. Robert Woods and rising sophomores Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds will return and the Rams may still look to improve that group between now and the fall.

Cooks is set to enter the option year on his rookie deal, worth $8.459MM. The Rams can continue to control him through the 2019 season with the franchise tag, but he’ll probably seek out a fresh multi-year pact. Knowing the Patriots, it’s likely that Bill Belichick & Co. were wary of having to extend him given the boom of the WR market this year.

You can now add wide receiver to the Patriots’ list of needs as they approach the draft in April. As it stands, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Kenny Britt, and Phillip Dorsett comprise the top of the team’s wide receiver depth chart. While there’s potential there – particularly in Britt and Dorsett – the Pats presently lack a strong No. 1 WR type for Tom Brady to target. Brady will also be without the services of Danny Amendola, who left New England after five seasons to sign with the rival Dolphins.

[RELATED: Rams Depth Chart]

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Brandin Cooks To Miss Rest Of Super Bowl

The jarring hit Brandin Cooks absorbed in the second quarter will end his first Super Bowl. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports (on Twitter) the Patriots’ top deep threat is done for the game.

Malcolm Jenkins delivered the blow that will leave the Patriots without their prized offseason acquisition. For the second straight game, New England will be without one of its key pass-catchers after a first-half collision.

The first-year Patriots wide receiver suffered a concussion, Doug Kyed of NESN.com tweets.

New England has a bevy of receiving options and was able to survive the Jaguars’ effort in the AFC title game without Rob Gronkowski, who was lost for that game due to a concussion, in the second half. But Cooks is the Pats’ top long-range weapon. The Patriots traded for Phillip Dorsett just before this season, and the former Colts first-round pick could now see time.

Acquired from the Saints for a first-round pick this offseason, Cooks has not missed a game since his 2014 rookie season. He reeled off his third straight 1,000-yard season, and the 16.6-yard average is the 24-year-old’s highest per-catch figure of his career. Cooks was the Patriots’ second-leading receiver this season, behind Gronkowski.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Nearly Traded For Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks had a successful first season in New England, posting 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns for the AFC champions after he was acquired from the Saints last offseason in exchange for a first-round draft pick. However, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, Cooks was very nearly traded to the Eagles, the team he will be playing against in tonight’s Super Bowl.

Brandin Cooks (vertical)

Per Rapoport, the Eagles had agreed to trade safety Malcolm Jenkins, a third-round pick, and two fourth-rounders to New Orleans for Cooks, but the trade was scuttled at the last minute.

It is impossible to say how the deal would have impacted the Saints, Patriots, or Eagles, but at least from Philadelphia’s perspective, it is probably for the best that it did not happen. If it had, the Eagles likely would not have signed Alshon Jeffery, who was terrific in his first season in Philly, and they would have sorely missed Jenkins, who earned a Pro Bowl nod this year.

Plus, the third-rounder that would have been sent to New Orleans ended up being used in a separate trade to acquire Timmy Jernigan, and one of the fourth-rounders was used on promising young wideout Mack Hollins. All in all, then, it seems as if all parties involved are happy with the way things worked out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Cooks, Dolphins, McCown

Brandin Cooks has made the successful transition from Drew Brees‘ top deep threat to Tom Brady‘s, not that it was in too much doubt this could happen. As a result, Cooks would like to extend his Patriots stay far into the future. The fourth-year wide receiver said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, he would “absolutely” like to play the rest of his career in New England. Multiple obvious caveats come with this statement, though. The first being Cooks’ contract runs through the 2018 season, via the fifth-year option the Pats picked up. After that, it will probably take a high-end WR1 contract to keep Cooks in the Boston area. And the Patriots have not exactly been the kind of team that doles those out. Secondly, Brady’s age naturally makes it a year-to-year proposition the Patriots have a dominant passing game. But for now, Cooks likes where he’s stationed. He’s on pace for another 1,100-plus-yard season, with the 786 he’s at actually putting him on track for a career-high figure.

Here’s more from the AFC East.

  • The Dolphins might have to again turn to Matt Moore on Sunday. Jay Cutler remains in concussion protocol. But the team hopes its starter is cleared Friday or Saturday, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting (on Twitter) Cutler is on track to face the Patriots. Cutler hasn’t been able to practice much this week, but Adam Gase said he would feel comfortable putting the 34-year-old passer out there because he’s a veteran, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes. Moore has played well in relief of Cutler twice this season but bombed in a 40-0 loss to the Ravens as a starter. Miami’s backup did fare better as a starter in 2016, however.
  • On the Cutler subject, Salguero writes no one in the Dolphins organization pushed back hard enough against Gase’s wishes to bring in the polarizing passer. And while Cutler may not be on Miami’s roster next season, his $10MM contract cost the Dolphins some potential cap-carryover money. Thanks to a roster that has two quarterbacks making eight-figure salaries, the Dolphins have less than $1MM to carry over, and Salguero points out the team passing on Cutler would have made it possible to carry at least $7MM over into 2018.
  • In the expansive piece judging the Fins’ offseason moves, Salguero writes that Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas will likely be cut. And Mike Pouncey won’t be automatic to see a seventh Miami season. The Dolphins can save $7MM by cutting Pouncey, who says he’s playing with a damaged hip, in 2018.
  • Josh McCown has made more starts in 2017 than he has in all but two seasons. The Jets quarterback looks set to eclipse his previous single-season high (13 with the 20o4 Cardinals), keeping Christian Hackenberg off the field. But as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News observes, this productive age-38 season has cost the Jets long-term. McCown’s one-year contract might have been too good an investment since will have the Jets out of franchise-quarterback territory come draft time. Gang Green would pick 12th if the season ended today.

Brandin Cooks’ Discontent Led To Saints Trading WR

Brandin Cooks faced his former team today, in a Patriots rout in New Orleans, but some additional details emerged on why he spent time in the visitors’ locker room.

The Saints dealt the fourth-year wide receiver for a first-round pick because of Cooks’ issues with his role in New Orleans’ offense and his doubts about the team’s future, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

Cooks expressed doubt Drew Brees, who is now in his age-38 season, could continue to get him the ball deep, per Rapoport. And the Saints were skeptical of the 23-year-old’s status as a No. 1 wide receiver. Rapoport notes Cooks was going to want to be paid like a No. 1 receiver, and the Saints were not prepared to authorize that kind of contract for the deep threat despite his back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons.

A late-season meeting between Cooks and Sean Payton did little to clear the air, Rapoport reports, and the organization did not like what it perceived to be a self-over-team mindset from the talented pass-catcher. Payton told Cooks, who voiced frustration (the “closed mouths don’t get fed” comment) after going catchless in a 49-21 win over the Rams last November, he would see a target increase. Nevertheless, Cooks voicing his frustrations about his stat line following a blowout win rubbed some with the Saints the wrong way, per Rapoport.

And the wideout tied a season-high with seven receptions the following week. Despite Michael Thomas‘ emergence, Cooks saw at least eight targets in 10 games last season and at least six in 14 contests.

While Cooks was pro-Brees in terms of his relationship with the quarterback, the future Hall of Fame passer’s arm strength was not something the receiver felt he could address on any level, Rapoport adds. Cooks had discussions along these lines with Payton, OC Pete Carmichael, then-wideouts coach John Morton and GM Mickey Loomis.

Interestingly, the soon-to-be 24-year-old performer is now playing with a 40-year-old quarterback and for a team notoriously stingy regarding big contracts. Cooks caught two passes for 37 yards in New England’s win in New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Exercise Brandin Cooks’ Option

Not much of a surprise, but Brandin Cooks will be sticking around New England through at least the 2018 season. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the Patriots have picked up the wideout’s fifth-year option.

Brandin Cooks (vertical)Cooks is in line to make a very-affordable $1.56MM this offseason, but his fifth-year option is likely to be valued around $8.5MM. As our own Connor Byrne previously noted, the Patriots are likely to see what Cooks does in their offense before they hand him a lucrative extension. Either way, the 23-year-old should expect to make at least $10MM annually on his next contract.

The Patriots were left out of the fun on Thursday night after having dealt the 32nd pick (along with pick #103) to New Orleans for Cooks (and pick #118) earlier this offseason. The 23-year-old will provide Tom Brady with another talented target, joining a receiving corps that already features Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Over the past two seasons, Cooks has averaged 81 receptions for 1,155 yards and more than eight touchdowns.

There are still several 2013 first-rounders who are awaiting decisions on their fifth-year option, including Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and Bills receiver Sammy Watkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Eagles, Jenkins, Bills

Muhammad Wilkerson, who inked a monster extension with the Jets last year, appears to be extremely out of shape, according to multiple scouts who saw him at Temple’s Pro Day (via Manish Mehta of the Daily News). Wilkerson’s listed weight last season was 315 pounds and it’s unclear how heavy he is at the moment. The Jets effectively chose Wilkerson over fellow defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson last year by giving him the long-term deal and, so far, it’s not clear if Wilkerson will reward the Jets for their confidence in him. Last year Wilkerson had just 4.5 sacks, the lowest total since his rookie season. This year, he’s set to carry a $18MM cap number with a fully guaranteed $14.75MM base salary, so a trade is probably out of the question. Meanwhile, Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter) posted a picture of Wilkerson from just last week in which he appears to be in the same shape he was last year.

A bit more from the NFL’s East divisions:

  • Eagles GM Howie Roseman continues to shoot down rumors that he offered up Malcolm Jenkins in trade talks for Brandin Cooks. His latest denial is the firmest one to date (Twitter link via 97.5 The Fanatic). “The Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Jenkins thing kind of gets under my skin. We were never going to trade Malcolm Jenkins,” Roseman said.
  • Initially reported as a four-year deal, kicker Steven Hauschka‘s pact with the Bills is actually a three-year contract, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s worth $8.85MM, nearly half of which ($4MM) is guaranteed.
  • In case you missed it, Gang Green agreed to a deal with longtime Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne on Thursday.