The Patriots Trade Brandin Cooks for the Rams' 1st Rounder

First of all, allow me to put this move into Patriots perspective with something I posted Friday about the ridiculous notion they’d be interested in Odell Beckham, Jr.:

–Since 2000, the Patriots the only NFL team to have not used a 1st Round pick on a receiver.
–Most teams draft 2.5 wideouts for every tight end. The Belichick Regime ratio is 15/11.
–Of those 15 receivers taken, two were in the 5th Round and FIVE were in Round 7.
–Two of those were basically full time special teamers, Matthew Slater and Jeremy Ebert.
–Of their 11 drafted tight ends, two were in the 1st and one (Gronk) was taken in the 2nd.
–Only once since 2006 have they used a 2nd rounder on a WR (Aaron Dobson).

So the idea they’d suddenly spend all their draft capital on a skill position guy – even one as good as Beckham – who’s going to hold out unless they make him the highest paid ever at a position they place so little emphasis on is lunacy. Even the deal to get Brandin Cooks last year was a departure for them. But he’s still in their control, making just over $2 million/year, and even still we’re wondering if they can keep him past this season.

And as if to prove my point, they flip Cooks for a higher pick (No. 23) than the one they used to get him (No. 32) and a move back of late round picks. In the big picture, this is your classic Belchickian move, buying semi-low and selling high. Getting a guy when he’s not making much money, then pro-actively sending him elsewhere before he starts getting paid somewhere between Dez Bryant money and DeAndre Hopkins bucks.  And he will.

None of this is a referendum on Cooks, who did his job as a Patriot. There’s been rumblings on talk radio that he was a disappointment here. Talk that will absolutely evaporate in a Tsunami of negativity about “What is Belichick thinking?” and “Brady needs weapons!!!” talk that always happens after a move like this. But it’s the ultimate Patriots Way. Doing business as business is done. They slot players at a certain value and stick to it. It sucks when you like the player they way I do Cooks. It bites the bag when you move on from a 24-year-old who gave you 1082 yards, 7 touchdowns and a career best 16.6 YPC. But it’s how this team has gotten to Super Bowls in literally half of Tom Brady’s seasons as a starter. He make receivers; they don’t make him.

And in exchange they get back the highest draft pick they’ve had since taking Chandler Jones with the 21st overall in 2012. As a matter of fact, only eight times in 18 drafts during the Bradichick Epoch have they had a pick higher than this. And when you’re in the conference championship game year in and year out, this is the only practical way to get into the low 20s: By either trading picks for future picks and hoping for the best, or trading assets before they get too expensive to keep. You can argue with the method and weep for the players that you lose. But you can’t argue that it’s the Rock ‘n Roll that’s built this city.

So the Rams, who are fast becoming the most interesting team of 2018, just picked up a young, tough, preposterously fast  deep threat and a precise route runner with great hands and not a diva bone in his body. The Patriots go into the draft with two 1st rounders, which is crucial for a team that has only had two in the last five drafts combined and only has three of their former 1st rounders (Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Malcom Brown) on their roster. And if you needed any more proof that Belichick is in this for the long haul and gives no fucks about “windows,” “cliffs” or “mortgaging the future” to win now, here it is.

Thanks for a great season, Brandin Cooks. It’s not you. It’s the Patriots Way.