The New Orleans Saints traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to New England in exchange for a package that includes the Patriots' first-round pick (No. 32), the team confirmed Saturday. The Patriots sent New Orleans a 2017 third-round selection (pick No. 103, the compensatory selection acquired from Cleveland in the Jamie Collins deal) in exchange for the Saints' fourth-round pick (No. 118).
Long rumored, this swap was sitting on the back burner during the first afternoons of free agency, while New Orleans signed wide receiver Ted Ginn and New England finalized a trade for tight end Dwayne Allen. Rapoport said as recently as Friday morning that negotiations between the two clubs could last up until the draft in late April.
Talks were reportedly hinging on what the Saints would receive in return for Cooks. New Orleans wanted the Patriots' No. 32 pick, while New England didn't want to part with cornerback Malcolm Butler. The sides compromised Friday evening.
The move marks the end of a month-long attempt by the Saints to deal Cooks, who was unhappy with his role last season in New Orleans. The resulting trade ends up looking like a win-win for both clubs, as the Saints rid themselves of a messy relationship and receive a first-round selection in return, one that will be used to beef up their defense, Rapoport reports.
In Foxborough, Cooks has the opportunity for a fresh start with yet another future Hall of Fame quarterback. Going from Drew Brees to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, the speedy wideout will add a new dimension to an already dynamic, shape-shifting Patriots offense. Cooks' ability to take the top off defenses with blazing pace is an attribute not utilized in Foxborough since the days of Randy Moss and should scare NFL defenses for at least next season.
In the final year of his four-year rookie deal, Cooks will be due an extension at the end of the year if the Patriots intend to keep the wideout going forward. That scenario turns Cooks' stay in New England into a "prove-it" year, joining recent signees Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor as wide receivers with a lot on the line in 2017.