I’ll admit, I didn’t see it coming. But I probably should have.
The New England Patriots traded Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday for a first-round pick (23rd overall) in the upcoming Draft. The Pats also sent a fourth-rounder (136 overall) to the Rams while getting a sixth-rounder (198 overall) in return.
Cooks turns 25 in September. He saw the most targets on the Patriots during last year’s regular season, and he finished the year with the second most receiving yards on the team, behind Rob Gronkowski.
Having already lost a wide receiver in Danny Amendola, a running back in Dion Lewis, and a left tackle in Nate Solder, it didn’t feel like the Patriots were going to lose another key piece on offense this offseason.
And then, of course, Cooks was dealt to LA.
He was entering the final year of his contract, and reports say that the Patriots were trying to sign Cooks to an extension before the trade. Assuming Cooks’ asking price was much higher than the value that Bill Belichick placed on him, the Patriots reacted by acquiring another first-round pick, giving them two first-rounders and two second-rounders in this month’s Draft.
And before I go any further, no, I do not expect the Patriots to use those two first-rounders to trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
Now, where were we?
Understanding — and ultimately accepting — the way Belichick does business, I guess the trade shouldn’t really be shocking news. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what Cooks did for the Pats in 2017. I did. And I guess it’s not to say that the Patriots didn’t enjoy what Cooks did for them in 2017 either. They did, or they wouldn’t have tried to sign him to an extension before the trade.
Take off the Cooks jersey for a minute, and you’ll realize this move is just another example of it being business as usual in Foxboro, for Belichick at least.
And like I told you several weeks ago — after the departures of Amendola, Lewis, Solder, and Malcolm Butler — seeing Belichick take a “business as usual” approach was actually refreshing, during an offseason in which the Patriot Way was being tested by some Patriots players.
By understanding the Cooks trade, Belichick’s offseason approach becomes even more refreshing, especially when realizing that it means a player like Gronkowski isn’t going anywhere. I never thought the Patriots were going to trade Gronkowski this offseason. And I certainly never believed for a second that Gronkowski was going to retire at the age of 28.
But now that both Cooks and Amendola are gone, there’s little to no chance that Gronkowski isn’t playing for the Patriots in 2018.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, WrestleMania 34 is this Sunday in New Orleans. And yes, Gronkowski’s good friend, Mojo Rawley is taking part in the “Andre the Giant Memorial battle Royal.”
Even if Gronkowski makes an appearance, don’t look for me to be panicking about his future in New England. I actually expect him to be there in some capacity. But I also expect him to be playing alongside Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan next season.
I told you that before the new league year even began. Now that Cooks has been shipped off to Los Angeles for a first-round pick, it’s even more evident that I was right all along. Gronkowski isn’t going anywhere.
And that makes me accept the Cooks trade even more.
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