Brandin Cooks Trade Signals Patriots Have Found Successor to Tom Brady


By trading Brandin Cooks for a first-round pick, the Patriots have revealed not only their plans in the draft, but the team’s future at quarterback as well…

In the NFL, there is no offseason.

Even when there’s an expected lull between free agency and the draft, a blockbuster trade shakes up the league. This year is no different as the New England Patriots have traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for a first-round pick (number 23 overall) and a sixth-round pick.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the deal.

With the acquisition of the Rams first-round pick, New England now holds four picks in the first two rounds and five of the first 95 selections in the 2018 NFL Draft. If the Patriots weren’t willing to break the bank for Cooks, there’s no chance Bill Belichick is loading up on picks to trade to the New York Giants for Odell Beckham, Jr.

Like Cooks, Beckham is also entering the final year of his contract and will be seeking an even larger deal next offseason. After missing all of the 2017 season, receivers Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell will be back on the field and the Patriots still have plenty of speed with Phillip Dorsett and the newly-acquired Cordarrelle Patterson.

Add in Chris Hogan and Kenny Britt and the Patriots depth at receiver isn’t so bad; especially considering who’s throwing the passes.

So what is the final result of this deal? It’s possible New England could look to package two or three picks to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft.

A few players who fit the Patriots mold include Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander, Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry and Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. All three of those defenders are expected to be off the board before the Patriots are on the clock and would require a trade up in order to select.

The defense certainly needs to be improved and the Patriots have gone defense with their first pick in 10 of the last 11 years, but the Cooks deal signifies a different approach this time around.

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One under-the-radar aspect of this trade is the Patriots will now make a pick before the Pittsburgh Steelers. Why is that significant? Both teams are looking for a successor to their future hall-of-fame quarterback and both appear to have interest in Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph.

Opinions on Rudolph are all over the place, but a run on quarterbacks early in round one will leave Rudolph as arguably the best signal caller on the board late on day one.

The Steelers haven’t tried to hide their interest in Rudolph, spending one-on-one time with him at the Scouting Combine and Oklahoma State’s Pro Day. The Patriots haven’t shown as much interest publicly, but Rudolph is one of just three quarterbacks in the draft who meet what Belichick looks for in a quarterback.

The other two are Josh Rosen of UCLA and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta. It would take a massive package of picks to trade up for Rosen and the Patriots don’t operate that way.

With as many holes as the team has on defense as well as not knowing who will protect Tom Brady’s blindside, to go along with newly created question marks at wide receiver, trading into the top five is not a viable option. That leaves Rudolph and Lauletta, with Rudolph as the best option.

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So the Patriots trade away one of Tom Brady’s top weapons in order to put themselves in position to draft Brady’s successor. With the Steelers selecting 28th overall, that wouldn’t have happened by staying at 31.

Now picking 23rd, the Patriots are in prime position to select Mason Rudolph. In most instances over the past 20 years, New England has been Pittsburgh’s kryptonite. This is just the latest instance of the Patriots edging out the Steelers, this time for a future starting quarterback.

The only question now is, will Rudolph finally be the quarterback to outlast Tom Brady in New England?