Patriots pull off huge trade, send Brandin Cooks to Rams for first-round pick

Although there's been some chatter that the Patriots might try to trade away Rob Gronkowski, the team pulled off a huge deal on Tuesday that didn't involve its star tight end. 

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has confirmed that the Patriots have agreed to a deal with the Rams that will send Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to Los Angeles. In exchange, New England will receive a sixth-round pick and the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The deal was first reported by ESPN.com

The deal means that the Patriots now have two first-rounders to work with in the draft. Before the trade went down the Patriots already had the 31st overall pick, and now they'll be adding the 23rd overall pick to their arsenal. The Patriots also have two second-round picks, which means New England will be holding four of the top 63 picks when the NFL Draft kicks off -- unless, of course, Bill Belichick decides to pull off another trade before the start of the draft on April 26. To put those four picks in perspective, the Patriots only had four picks in the entire 2017 draft; now they have four in the top 63 alone. 

The Patriots also got some serious value for Cooks. The team originally used a first-round pick (32nd overall) to acquire Cooks from the Saints, and now they're getting the 23rd overall pick in return for his services, which means Belichick's one-year rental paid off. 

On the Rams' end, this deal means you can likely go ahead and eliminate them from the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes. The two sides had been linked since last week, when a report came out that the Rams were interested in trading for Beckham. Rams coach Sean McVay didn't even try to shoot down the rumor when he was asked about it at the NFL Annual League Meeting last week. 

"I think if there is one thing that you can appreciate about what we've done this offseason and the way we look at our organization is, there's no trade we wouldn't explore if we feel it can upgrade us as a team," McVay said.

McVay clearly wasn't kidding when he said "there's no trade we wouldn't explore." The trade for Cooks is the fourth major trade that the Rams have pulled off this offseason. Over the past six weeks, not only have the Rams traded for Aqib Talib, but they also acquired Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters during a February trade with Kansas City. And on March 26, the Rams acquired one of the top remaining free agents in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Rams haven't just been acquiring players though, because, they also traded away linebacker Alec Ogletree to the Giants and dealt Robert Quinn away to the Dolphins

Although the Rams won't be getting Beckham, Cooks is a pretty decent consolation prize. As La Canfora noted after the trade, Cooks is a better fit in the Sammy Watkins role than Watkins was a year ago for L.A. During his only season with the Patriots last year, Cooks caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. Cooks has tallied at least 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches in each of his past three seasons, including two with the Saints. 

Cooks, who was selected by the Saints with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has one year left on his rookie deal that's slated to pay him roughly $8.46 million in 2018. By dealing away their first-round pick, the Rams are now one of two teams in the NFL -- along with the Texans -- that won't have a first or second-round pick in this year's draft, barring a trade.  

As for the Patriots, the addition of another first-round pick raises a lot of questions about what they might do in the draft. For one, they could trade up and go after a quarterback. As you're probably well aware of, Tom Brady will be 41 at the start of the 2018 season. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is well aware of that fact and even admitted last week that New England should "obviously" look to draft a QB. 

"I'm going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to [draft a quarterback],"Kraft said. "Not just that, but think what happened in the [2008] season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season? I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape."

On the other hand, if you're hoping the Patriots might get crazy and use their two first-round picks to try and land Beckham, you might want to give up all hope on that now. La Canfora has reported that the Patriots won't be in the market for the Giants receiver.  

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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