New England added to its overall 2018 draft haul late Tuesday when, according to media reports, the Patriots dealt WR Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams.
If confirmed, this move would give the Patriots eight total picks in the NFL Draft later this month, including a pair of choices in each of the first two rounds. New England now has the ability to stay put and make several potentially high-impact selections or package those top choices to move up and take a blue-chip prospect.
In the meantime, the decision to move on from Cooks after just one season in Foxborough is not altogether surprising, given his contributions last season. Although statistically productive (65 receptions, 1,082 yards, 7 touchdowns), the 24-year-old speedster frequently dropped seemingly catchable passes and never quite made the consistent impact that some analysts expected when he was acquired from New Orleans in a trade last March.
Furthermore, with Cooks scheduled to become a free agent after this coming season, it apparently made sense for New England to get something in return for him now, rather than simply allow him to explore the market next year at this time.
However, in choosing to ship Cooks back to his home state of California, the Patriots are now without two of their top pass-catchers from a year ago. The Cooks trade, coupled with Danny Amendola's departure to Miami via free agency, leaves New England with veterans Julian Edelman (who'll turn 32 next month and coming off a 2017 season-ending knee injury), Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, and Malcolm Mitchell, plus newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson (acquired via trade with Oakland last month) and a couple of young practice squad receivers.
Edelman and Hogan are the most proven commodities at the position, meaning there could be significant jockeying for the limited space on the depth chart behind them come training camp this summer.
From a non-football perspective, it's somewhat disappointing to see Cooks, among the friendliest players on the roster last year, leave New England. Throughout 2017, the West Coast native often spoke about how much he enjoyed playing for the Patriots and living in the Northeast. What's more, Cooks' final appearance in a Patriots uniform wound up being an inauspicious one. After sustaining a devastating blindside hit while running with the football in the open field early in Super Bowl LII, Cooks was concussed and forced to exit the game prematurely.
He now has a fresh start with a Rams team that has been aggressive in the team-building process this offseason, while the Patriots acquire more ammunition in the upcoming NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see what they do with it.