What the Brandin Cooks trade means for the Patriots

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The Patriots flipped the 24-year-old Cooks along with a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a first-round pick and sixth-round pick.

A year ago, the Rams traded away a second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines to acquire Watkins.

Bill Belichick's hands-on approach to the National Football League offseason may have sent Brandin Cooks packing.

The Los Angeles Rams aren't done wheeling and dealing just yet. A previous trade was said to have been explored for the New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., but the Rams liked the Cooks option better. It is arguably the biggest draft pick collection heading into a draft that head coach Bill Belichick has ever had to work with in New England.

With Cooks gone, the Patriots have a hole at receiver.

Cooks led Patriots receivers in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns in his one season with the team, but he has just one year remaining on his current contract at a cap hit of almost $8.5 million, according to Over The Cap. New England now has No. 23 and No. 31 in the first round, along with No. 43 and No. 63 in the second round and No. 95 in the third round.

The trade also appears to be a strategic move on the part of the Patriots: Cooks is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract, and he can become a free agent after the 2018 season.

Cooks was a productive player in his one season with the Pats and seems headed to a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. These two players likely will be in high demand next offseason, so locking them up now at potentially team-friendly prices could be the way to go for New England.

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.

Though Watkins had only 39 catches previous year, the August trade with Buffalo didn't land him with the Rams until training camp was done.

The wide receivers on the roster who will realistically be taking reps at the position are Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, and Kenny Britt. "Time" docuseries, or tight end Rob Gronkowski after Super Bowl LII, both players have acknowledged thoughts of how much longer they want to subject themselves to the physical and mental grind of the game.

-New England will use draft capital to move up for Tom Brady's successor in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 23 overall pick will be the Patriots' highest since the 2012 draft.

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