Last season, the Pats and the Rams completed a blockbuster trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Now, they play each other in the Super Bowl just 12 days from now. Los Angeles made the playoffs last year with for the first time since 2004. Their inexperience showed as they lost 26-13 in a mistake filled game to the seasoned Atlanta Falcons. GM Les Snead wanted to give Sean McVay more offensive weapons to operate with, as the offense completely was too predictable and revolved around Todd Gurley. The Rams seem to be in win now mode, with a new fan base and a new stadium coming in 2020, they want to give fans a reason to watch them play. In the offseason they signed Ndamukong Suh, traded for Marcus Peters, and traded for Aqib Talib. They spent $237M in total. But the most important acquisition was trading for Brandin Cooks.
When the trade was announced back on April 3rd, it generally seemed like a win-win for both teams. The Patriots got the 23rd pick in the draft and got out of a contract extension for a young player, which is something they like to do (Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins), while the Rams acquired an electrifying young talent at wide receiver. Cooks had one season in Foxborough, and he was one of Brady’s number one options with Julian Edelman out for the season with a torn ACL. The Patriots used the draft pick on Isaiah Wynn, a guard from University of Georgia. Wynn tore his Achilles in a preseason game this season. The Pats offensive line has played very well in the postseason, and this is one of the best running games they’ve had in the dynasty even without the rookie guard. I’m sure after the Brandon Grahams strip sack in last years Super Bowl, Belichick wanted to make sure it never happened again.
Cooks has excelled in the play action offense the Rams run. He has helped turn Jared Goff from a promising player into a top 10 quarterback.
Without Cooks, I don’t think the Rams get a bye or go to Atlanta. Following the trade, they promptly agreed to a contract extension worth $80M over 5 seasons because players like Cooks don’t grow on trees. Other than his rookie year, he has recorded at least 1,000 yards every season. His receiving yards and touchdowns were lower on the Pats than they were on the Saints, even though Tom Brady is a better QB than Drew Brees. Here are his stats throughout the last 3 years with his 3 different teams.
Just by looking at his stats, it seems like Cooks is one of the most consistent and talented receivers in the NFL. He is always on the field and has stayed out of trouble his whole career. This season has been his best, and I think the only reason he’s moved around so much was salary reasons.
Overall, I think Belichick’s reasoning with Brandin Cooks made sense. They traded the 32nd pick for him in 2017, got a good year and a Super Bowl performance out of him, then traded him to avoid a fat contract. The Rams don’t mind paying big time players.
The final two teams from this season were built very differently, and it’s very interesting to dig into just how different they are. The Patriots nail trades for players that other teams don’t want anymore. They pick very well in the 6th and 7h round, make the most out of undrafted free agents and they sign players for cheap. The Rams best players such as Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald were all high first round picks. They traded for their stars, and they paid big money for their other players. So far, the trade has been a home run for the Rams. If Cooks torches the New England secondary and gets a win, the decision will look about as bad as benching Malcolm Butler last season.
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