Patriots trade rumors: Brandin Cooks for Malcolm Butler in the works
By Matt Conner
The best team in the AFC continues to get better by dealing with the New Orleans Saints for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The New England Patriots are unleashing a rare plan for Bill Belichick by making significant splashes in free agency and then swinging an unexpected trade that keeps cornerback a strength and further bolsters an amazing offense.
The New Orleans Saints are shopping Brandin Cooks because of their own glut of wide receiver options for Drew Brees. Cooks is still cheap and commands a great return because of the cost and ability packaged together. However, the team has been looking to deal him for a strong defensive return as the Saints hope to finally turn the corner defensively instead of forcing Brees to be in an offensive shootout each week.
Butler would give the Saints a shutdown cornerback who is still very young. The Pats slapped him with a first-round tender, so now the Saints will be able to match whatever offer Butler receives on the open market.
Cooks would provide the already-dangerous Patriots an incredible wideout to stretch the field. With tighte end Rob Gronkowski returning from a season-ending injury and joining Cooks on an offense that won the Super Bowl, it will be incredible to see what Tom Brady can do with these weapons. They haven’t had a receiver as talented as Cooks since Randy Moss wore a New England uniform. Over the last two seasons, Cooks has averaged 81 catches for 1,156 yards and 8 touchdowns.
If this trade happens, the Patriots would be dealing from a position of strength after signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore away from the Buffalo Bills for a reported $14 million per season. This gives them a lockdown cornerback of their own even as they deal away Butler. It’s interesting that the team didn’t want to give Butler the same amount of money, but perhaps they knew who the Saints wanted in return and made Gilmore an offer to replace him.
This would be a great trade for both sides, a certain win for the Saints because their offense will click just fine without Cooks, despite his considerable talents. On the flip side, the Patriots would add a dynamic receiver who is still cost-controlled and give Brady a bright young weapon. It also means the AFC’s biggest hurdle for a team like the Chiefs will just get that much tougher.