In a move rumored for days and one that was leaving fantasy owners salivating at the possibility, the Patriots have acquired Brandin Cooks in a trade that sends their first and third rounders to the Saints in exchange for Cooks and a fourth round selection. This move is arguably the biggest of all so far in free agency and has long-reaching impact from New Orleans to New England and beyond. The signing of Ted Ginn in New Orleans earlier in the week signaled the end for Cooks but it’s still hard to believe the Saints were so willing to trade away such a dynamic young playmaker. The rich have gotten richer as Cooks will join an offense in New England as explosive as the one he leaves with the Saints. Let’s examine the players impacted by this blockbuster of a trade.
Brandin Cooks, WR NE
“This is the best receiver Tom Brady has had since Randy Moss and in his Moss’ first year in New England he had 23 touchdowns and like a zillion yards! Cooks is going to blow up and set the fantasy world on fire!”
Pump the brakes.
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Yes, this may be the most talented receiver Brady has had since Moss, but the acquisition of Cooks isn’t likely going to overhaul the focus of the offense. In short, the Patriots will utilize Cooks’ unique talents but don’t expect them to force-feed him the ball when they have Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell all on the roster. Having Cooks gives them a different dynamic athletically but he’ll still need to become acclimated to the offense and accept his role – something he wasn’t necessarily keen on late last year in New Orleans and something that’s no easy task to do. Just ask Chad Johnson and that same Randy Moss.
Dynasty owners will likely need to be patient here as it’s going to take time to see just what Cooks can do. He will undoubtedly be a primary target for the Patriots, but they throw to the open player as well as anyone in the league. The real impact in reality and fantasy from Cooks may not be coming for another year when Edelman becomes a free agent. If the Patriots decide to use Cooks in a similar to role to what they have with Edelman and Wes Welker, the numbers he could compile could be pretty amazing.
Expectations should be tempered a little at the beginning, though Cooks is obviously going to be on the field as a starter and should still post some great games and a solid line as at least a WR2. I’d just make sure I don’t underestimate the learning curve of the New England offense and their tendency to spread the ball around. As we know, Coach Belichick doesn’t exactly care about fantasy production and moving Cooks into “elite top five” status would be premature. Still, this is an exciting move for Cooks and we know the Patriots have been eyeing him for some time as they’ve continuously been impressed with him at their annual joint practices with New Orleans.
Tom Brady, QB NE
Brady has made the most of the talent surrounding him for years and seemingly creates stars out of players with average talent. With Cooks, he’ll finally have an athlete who brings a truly special ability to the position. Brady is going to age well with Cooks in tow. Expect the two of them to provide fireworks as soon as they can develop a nice chemistry. Brady and his dynasty owners should be thrilled with this acquisition.
Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
This move does nothing to Gronk’s value. His health is the biggest obstacle to his production and that’s the bottom line. The addition of Cooks should actually help open up the middle of the field for him. He’s still the primary option in this offense and will be dominant when he’s on the field.
Julian Edelman, WR NE
I expect Edelman’s role to remain much the same as he works out of the slot. However, the addition of Cooks could make him expendable down the road. While he’ll certainly lose some targets, expecting him to just suddenly disappear from the offense would be foolish.
Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell, WRs NE
If anyone’s values are adversely affected by the addition of Cooks, it’s likely this trio. The pecking order in the passing offense is likely Gronkowski, Cooks, then Edelman in some order. There will be more than enough balls to go around for those three but predicting which of these other three is going to produce on a weekly basis could prove to be difficult, if not impossible.
Michael Thomas, Willie Snead and Ted Ginn, WRs NO
I won’t re-create the wheel here as I covered exactly what a move like this was going to do for the values of this trio here yesterday. In short, this solidifies Thomas’ value as the clear cut number one option in New Orleans and, as the GOAT would say, “The ceiling is the roof.” Willie Snead gets a nice bump in value as he moves directly into the starting lineup. Ted Ginn is going to be the situational deep threat in New Orleans and I’d expect stat lines closer to Robert Meachem than Brandin Cooks – don’t get caught overvaluing him.
Drew Brees, QB NO
You might be dropping down your rankings but I won’t. Brees is much like Brady in the fact he’s going to produce regardless of who he’s throwing to.
This move is one you’d pull off in a video game and one we couldn’t have imagined a month ago. These types of moves make dynasty leagues tons of fun and we’ll be here to continue providing you analysis of each and every move of free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft.