This season, there was one debate that regularly divided Patriots fans. It was similar to the arguments that divide Strokes, Weezer, and Killers fans, and most answers place the individual at one end of the spectrum. For Patriots fans, it was the Cooks spectrum. Is Brandin Cooks good or bad? Does he fit?
My placement is somewhere between the “good” and “middle” points on the spectrum. I like Brandin Cooks. Many people on the “bad” side of the spectrum will cite his skillset as being unnecessary in the Patriots’ offense. Cooks stretches the field and opens up the underneath routes by way of either beating his man deep, or pulling up on a comeback route. This is true, but the argument could be made that that skill is what won the Patriots the AFC Championship game.
Many would argue the Patriots’ biggest need right now is left tackle. The pick the Patriots traded to the Saints was used on Ryan Ramczyk, who in his first season with New Orleans became a top-ten tackle in the NFL.
This is why I take issue with trading for Cooks and then trading him the following offseason being touted as genius move. It’s not a bad move by any means, but the prospect this left tackle issue could be solved right now without compromising the receiving corps, which would have been fine without Cooks (it always is because of who’s throwing the ball) is an enticing thought.
It’s hard to gage what a team thinks it’s own needs are in hindsight. Last year, the Patriots could have thought it was layup to resign Nate Solder, that they’d be able to retain one of either Cameron Fleming or LaAdrian Waddle (which they did), or that 3rd-round pick Antonio Garcia could become a starter. Thus, they wouldn’t need an offensive tackle.
The counterargument to this is two-fold: the Patriots traded Brandin Cooks because they knew the range of his price tag next offseason, and what team wouldn’t want an OT that can start immediately? Again, hindsight: you can’t predict someone will become a top 10 OT in his first season. But knowing what we know now, the Cooks trade shouldn’t have happened.
On that note… Again with this idea of hindsight in mind:
Last offseason, the Patriots apparently tried to to trade Malcolm Butler to the Saints for the 11th-overall pick. We now know that the Patriots offered Butler a similar contract to what he ended up getting with the Titans. Given how much Butler was jerked around, the Patriots likely foresaw his departure. I don’t know what the most the Patriots offered was, but that Saints pick ended up being Marshon Lattimore, who in his first season is a top-5 CB in the NFL. Again, maybe the Patriots don’t pick Lattimore. Maybe the Patriots don’t gage CB as their biggest need. But the idea of having Ramczyk and Lattimore on the Patriots’ roster right now, on their rookie deals, having just not traded for one player and trading another that they almost traded anyway, neither of which are on the team one year out…ugh.