It is a rare sight for a highly-productive veteran player on the back end of a rookie contract to just get outright dealt by the team that drafted him, but it was the case with Brandin Cooks this offseason when the speedy receiver was dealt from the Saints to the Patriots.
New England gave up Tom Brady's arsenal. The Saints, ostensibly, were interested in beefing up the talent on the defensive side of the ball and apparently tired of Cooks complaining about his target share in the Saints offense.in order to beef up
According to Rapoport, Cooks believed Brees' declining arm strength was "the elephant in the room" and "couldn't be talked about on any level."
This argument is kind of weird, right? "Drew Brees can't throw the ball deep enough" doesn't really pass the "say it out loud" test. The numbers don't indicate that Brees is struggling on the deep ball either: he was second in the NFL in deep passing yards according to Pro Football Focus and finished third in accuracy percentage on throws that were 20 yards or more down the field.
You could look at his 2016 passer rating chart (courtesy of the fantastic Next Gen Stats at NFL.com) and argue he is not elite down the field.
There is also a point that Brees is 37 and, like anyone at his age, seeing a decline in his arm strength. But come on. This is Drew Freaking Brees we're talking about.
Cooks waltzed into an incredible situation that allowed him to produce massive numbers. As the speed threat in the Saints offense, he piled up 162 catches, 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. He doesn't put up those kind of numbers if he's drafted by, say, the Jets.
That's not to say that Cooks isn't a good receiver. He's a very good receiver. The Patriots gave up a first-round pick for him because he is a very good receiver and Cooks will likely continue to produce because he did not land with the Jets. He landed with the Patriots and he is now catching passes from Tom Brady.
He might consider not mentioning anything about Brady's arm strength to Bill Belichick. That might not go over well.