The Patriots rarely make big splashes during NFL chaos week – which features the first few days of free agency. But reports this weekend indicated that Bill Belichick might be willing to make some noise in early March this year as he attempted to trade the No. 32 overall pick to New Orleans in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The Patriots are likely targeting Cooks not only for his talent but because he’s heading into the final year of his rookie deal. If Belichick is unable to land Cooks in a trade this week (the Eagles are said to be the front-runners), expect him to at least give old friend Bill O’Brien a call to see if DeAndre Hopkins is available.
The Patriots have been pestering the Houston front office about Hopkins for a while now as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that at the 2016 trade deadline the Pats offered Jamie Collins to the Texans in exchange for Hopkins, who was putting up career low numbers.
Hopkins can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season.
As of now, the 24-year-old is saying all the right things, but if Houston doesn’t pay up soon one can bet he’ll put up a fuss again. Hopkins held out for a day in training camp last year as he was “disappointed that the Texans organization elected not to enter into contract negotiations to secure (his) future as a Texan.”
It looks as though the Patriots are now hell-bent on doing what they did with Darrelle Revis in 2014 and Martellus Bennett this past season (assuming Bennett walks) at the wide receiver position. The Pats, more or less, rented Revis for the 2014 season – won a Super Bowl with him, passive-aggressively entered into contract negotiations with him two years agoand then let him score a big pay day elsewhere. These elite-level rentals seem to be working well for Belichick.
As for what will work well for the Saints with Cooks and the Texans with Hopkins remains to be seen.
Houston is in desperation mode to fix an offense that ranked 28th in the league in points per game in 2016. The Texans could very well opt to entirely re-tool their offense with B and C-level players at wide receiver and running back. With Brock Osweiler’s contract still holding the franchise hostage financially, the Texans would be wise to “spread the wealth” instead of tying up the majority of their money in two offensive players.