BOSTON — Tom Brady will be without one of his top receivers from last season after the New England Patriots traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams on Tuesday for Los Angeles’ first-round draft pick, 23rd overall.

And before losing Cooks after the upcoming season, Coach Bill Belichick got some value for the speedy receiver with one year left on his contract.

In the deal, New England also sends a fourth-round choice to the Rams, who give the Patriots a sixth-rounder.

The trade is somewhat of a surprise move for New England considering the chemistry Cooks quickly developed with Brady. This trade also comes on the heels of Danny Amendola – one of Brady’s favorite targets – being signed by the Dolphins in free agency.

But it also could be a significant strategic move on the part of the Patriots.

Cooks is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract and could become a free agent after the 2018 season. With three 1,000-yard seasons, Cooks, 24, will likely be a coveted player next offseason.


The Patriots may not have been willing to pay a high price to keep him and may be looking to get maximum value now.

With the draft picks New England picked up in Tuesday’s deal, it now holds four picks in the first two rounds later this month and four more picks in Rounds 3-7.

That gives Belichick the ability to go shopping for a young prospect or perhaps to make a deal for a veteran.

Cooks was New Orleans’ first-round selection in 2014 and played three seasons for the Saints. He was acquired 13 months ago by New England for a first-rounder and other picks, and made 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns in his lone season with the Patriots.

His receiving yards were second only to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who finished with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight TDs.

Cooks’ skillset was something the Rams were seeking this offseason following Sammy Watkins departure to Kansas City. Cooks joins another speed-based offense that can put his ability to create in space to use.


But the biggest issue for New England is that the receiver is due to make a lot of money on the open market next year. Although his $8.3 million tag is a relative bargain this season, there was almost no chance that the Patriots would be able to re-sign Cooks since elite receivers are making over $15 million per year on the open market.

The Patriots could have rolled with Cooks in 2018 and received a third-round comp pick in 2019.

Even with a hole at receiver, there’s also the possibility that the Patriots may do nothing heading into training camp.

Julian Edelman is expected to return after suffering a preseason knee injury, plus the team also has Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister on the roster.

Add in Gronkowski and Brady’s passing attack should be fine – in the event that these players stay healthy.

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