In a surprise move, the Los Angeles Rams acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Patriots yesterday. Much like the Alex Smith trade in January, this move has sent ripples across the league and impacts several teams. Here is what we learned:

New England Couldn’t Work Out a Long-Term Deal for Cooks

 

Cooks is entering the final year of his rookie contract and was easily the Patriots best deep-threat weapon, posting a career-high 16.6 yards per reception, but his total receiving yards and touchdowns dipped to their lowest since his rookie season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known for his hard line stance in negotiations and his refusal to pay players a cent more than he believes they are worth, so it’s not surprising that the two sides couldn’t work out a long-term deal. The Rams are now in a similar position to where they were last year with Sammy Watkins as they try to hammer out an extension with Cooks.

Rob Gronkowski is Now Unlikely to Be Traded

Before the trade, Boston-based sports radio station WEEI’s Ken Laird reported that Rob Gronkowski will be “gone” in the next couple of weeks. That report soured less than 12 hours later as Cooks was shipped. Ian Rappaport is now reporting the Patriots have had no trade talks involving Gronkowski.

New England is Now Armed with the Picks Needed to Trade Up

Tom Brady is turning 41 this summer and while he isn’t playing like someone his age, Father Time will win eventually. New England had their heir to Brady in Jimmy Garoppolo, but wound up trading him. Always a dark horse candidate for one of the top quarterbacks available in the draft, New England now has the ammunition to move up, or they could try to trade for an established player. They’re also in need of a new left tackle, so Mike McGlinchey could be another name to keep an eye on. Odell Beckham Jr. has been linked to the Patriots now that Cooks is gone, but I can’t see Belichick wanting to enter negotiations with someone who will command $18 million per year.

The Rams Used the Giants for Leverage

Speaking of Beckham, the Rams were one of the first teams linked to the star wide receiver. Adam Schefter, however, reported that the Rams have been in talks with the Patriots for more than a month now involving Cooks, so there is a good chance that Los Angeles leaked their interest in Beckham in order to try and leverage New England into making a deal. Regardless, this is one less team who will be in the mix if the Giants do decide to move on from Beckham.

The Rams are Taking Advantage of Jared Goff’s Rookie Contract

Much like the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles have done in recent years, the Rams are taking full advantage of the fact that they do not have to spend a lot of money at quarterback and can pay more for talent around him, an interesting new strategy born out of the collective bargaining agreement. Along with Cooks, the Rams have added Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and will have $90 million in cap space to work with next year, more than enough to hammer our a long-term deal for Aaron Donald.

 

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