BOSTON (AP) — Tom Brady will be without one of his top receivers from last season after the Patriots traded deep threat Brandin Cooks to the Rams on Tuesday for Los Angeles’ first-round draft pick, 23rd overall.
In the deal, New England also sends a fourth-round choice to the Rams, who give the Patriots a sixth-rounder.
Cooks, 24, was New Orleans’ first-round selection in 2014 and played three seasons for the Saints. He was acquired 13 months ago by New England for a first-rounder and other picks, and made 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns in his lone season with the Patriots.
His receiving yards were second only to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who finished the season with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight TDs.
Cooks is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract and could become a free agent after the 2018 season.
Cooks’ skillset was something the Rams were seeking this offseason following Sammy Watkins departure to Kansas City. Cooks joins another speed-based offense that can put his ability to create in space to use.
The trade is somewhat of a surprise move for New England considering the chemistry he quickly developed with Brady. This trade also comes on the heels of one of Brady’s favorite targets in Danny Amendola being signed by the Dolphins in free agency.
But it also could be a strategic move on the part of the Patriots.
With three 1,000-yard seasons, Cooks would likely be a coveted player next offseason. The Patriots may not have been willing to pay a high price to keep him and may be looking to get maximum value now.
With the draft picks New England picked up in Tuesday’s deal, it now holds four picks in the first two rounds later this month and four more picks in Rounds 3-7.
That gives coach Bill Belichick the ability to go shopping for a young prospect or perhaps to make a deal for a veteran.
Still, there’s also the possibility that the Patriots may do nothing at all at receiver heading into training camp.
Julian Edelman is expected to return after suffering a preseason knee injury, and Malcolm Mitchell is also slated to return after spending time on injured reserve with a knee issue.
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