By Sterling Pingree
This week the Patriots traded receiver Brandin Cooks to the Rams for a first round pick, #23 overall. The deal caught many by surprise as well it probably should in an off season that saw the exodus of so many major pieces. Below the surface the trade makes sense in the same sort of way that the Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones trades made sense. Cooks is set to test the free agent market after the 2018 season and with guys like Sammy Watkins making $16 million per year, what chance was there of Cooks being a Patriot beyond this year? About the same as a certain Head and Shoulders spokesmen coming to Foxborough. (Hold that thought.)
With the Cooks trade came a lot of assumptions about what this means the Patriots are about to do in the days and weeks leading into the NFL Draft. Predicting what the Patriots do is nearly impossible, but predicting what they won’t do is much easier. Here is a list of things that the Patriots will not do as a result of the Brandin Cooks trade.
The Patriots will NOT:
- Package their two first round picks to move up in the draft and take a quarterback. There is no consensus what quarterback is going where in this draft as it is, let alone trying to predict what passer Belichick would have a preference on. Also, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this or not, but Belichick kind of has a thing for finding undervalued quarterbacks in the draft. Tom Brady aside, Belichick drafted Matt Cassel after he backed up two Heisman winners at USC, he drafted Ryan Mallett when he slid down the draft board and he nabbed Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo in a draft where more people were infatuated with Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr. Will the Patriots draft a quarterback? Almost certainly, but I think the earliest they’d take one is the second round. I would be very surprised to see New England take a qb in the first round. Unless the rumors of the Patriots interest in Mason Rudolph are legit or they really do like Lamar Jackson more than most teams. Though that seems like a red herring to me.
- New England will not, absolutely positively (wild about mud) not trade their first rounders (or anything else) for Odell Beckham Jr. What sense would this make? OBJ is set to become a free agent after the season and has already said that he wants to be the highest paid football player in the league. Beckham is due roughly $8.5 million this season, essentially the same as Cooks, so the Patriots could pay him but two first rounders for a one year rental is a steep price to pay. Look at what the Patriots did with Cooks, they traded the 32nd pick for Cooks, got one year’s production out of him, and then flipped him for the 23rd pick in the draft. They got a 1,000 yard receiver for a year and moved up 9 spots in the draft. By trading for Odell, the Patriots would be lighting those picks on fire and hoping Beckham doesn’t have any of the issues or create any of the headaches he has caused in New York while staying healthy and producing at a high level in a complex offense. You see the highlights that Odell makes, but they’re generally busted plays down field, which isn’t exactly a staple of Josh McDaniels offense. I could see them trading up for a quarterback (and causing a riot in the rush to anoint whoever that QB was) than I could them spending that kind of draft capitol on a one year dalliance with OBJ.
- The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds of the draft, what this trade doesn’t mean is that the Patriots are going to make all four of those picks. Belichick will trade down and add picks in the later rounds this year or higher rounds next year, but if ever there was a time to restock through the draft it might be this year. They lost Butler, Amendola, Solder, Cooks, Fleming, Bennett and Branch, now might be the time to bring in some young pieces. You always wonder if some year, Belichick will splurge and make selections with all the picks he has. But like the future entrepreneur with the lemonade stand, instead of blowing all the stand’s profits on baseball cards and bubble gum, Belichick knows it’s wise to reinvest back into the business and plan for the future.
The one thing that I know most Patriots fans hope this means is more Rob Gronkowski. The rumors swirled early in the week that the Patriots were growing impatient with Gronk’s indecision about continuing his career. It seems those reports are false, but outside of taking a high-impact player in the draft, extending Gronk and keeping one of the top tight ends in league history happy, would be a tremendous result.
Sterling Pingree is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.