Brandin Cooks is only 10 games into his New England Patriots career, but he's seen enough of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the AFC East's top operation to know that he wouldn't mind staying in Foxborough for the long haul.

If given the choice, in fact, he'd stick around until he's done playing football altogether.

"The goal is to play the rest of my career here," Cooks told "That's God willing. I don't know what the future holds, but this is a special place."

Just 24, the former New Orleans Saints wide receiver leads the NFL in 40-yard catches in 2017, and he's well on pace to eclipse the consecutive 1,100-yard seasons he posted with Drew Brees from 2015-16. His 786 yards rank fourth in the league behind only Antonio Brown, Adam Thielen and DeAndre Hopkins, and he's emerged as MVP candidate Tom Brady's top deep threat.

The former first-round draft pick is also rooting himself in the New England area off the field, where he's drawn the effusive praise of Belichick and, for example, this week served as Reebok's Boston ambassador for the creation of a custom Flexweave suit.

Cooks is hesitant to compare his time in New Orleans and New England, which acquired him in March as part of a swap of draft picks, simply acknowledging that he "has a lot of respect for Drew" and that both places afforded him ample opportunity on a big stage -- "To be able to come into the NFL like that," he said, "words can't explain how blessed I am."

But he doesn't hesitate to talk up his current team, which sits atop the AFC East at 8-2. The Pats, Cooks said, are still "gelling" and taking the age-old approach of one week at a time, but they are also the team he wants to play for well beyond 2017. Especially when Brady himself has suggested playing until age 45.

"I can't speak for him," Cooks laughed. "But Tom does Tom things."