Eagles reportedly offered a Pro Bowler and draft picks to Saints for Brandin Cooks

When the Saints dealt Brandin Cooks to the Patriots on Friday, they got a nice return in the form of a first-round pick. As it turns out though, that wasn’t the only generous offer that came their way for the speedy receiver.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Saints also got an intriguing offer from the Eagles that included two draft picks and a Pro Bowl safety. If the Saints had accepted Philadelphia’s offer, they would have come away with Malcolm Jenkins, a third-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for Cooks.

Instead, the Saints decided to take the Patriots’ offer, which included the 32nd overall pick in the draft, along with one of New England’s third round picks (103rd overall). However, the Saints didn’t exactly pick up two draft picks in the deal because they also had to send a fourth-round pick to the Patriots along with Cooks.

If the Saints had accepted the Eagles offer, they would’ve received the 74th overall pick (Philly’s third rounder) along with either the 119th or 139th pick (fourth-rounder) plus Jenkins.

For Jenkins, a trade to New Orleans would’ve meant a return to the city where he started his career. The 2015 Pro Bowler played five seasons with the Saints (2009-13) before moving on to Philadelphia before the 2014 season.
The Eagles likely offered Jenkins because the Saints have been desperate for defensive help. In the week leading up to free agency, Saints coach Sean Payton made it clear that if his team was going to trade Cooks, they would only do it if they were able to improve their defense. 

“When a team calls, a team that’s looking for a receiver -- and we’re looking to improve our defense -- we’re always listening,” Payton said when asked on March 2 if Cooks was on the trading block.

Although adding Jenkins plus two draft picks would seem like a quick way to upgrade the defense, it’s possible that the Saints didn’t want to see Cooks go to an NFC rival. The other wrench in Eagles-Saints trade talks was New Orleans’ asking price. According to PFT, the Saints wanted a second-round pick included in the deal, and that’s when the Eagles balked.

One thing’s for sure, Eagles coach Doug Pederson is trying to give Carson Wentz as many weapons as possible. In the 48 hours since free agency started, not only did the team sign Alshon Jeffery, but they also added Torry Smith, plus they tried to trade for Cooks.

it looks like Philly’s plan is to air it out and outscore everyone next season.

Jul 28, 2014; White Sulpher Springs, WV, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) carries the ball during training camp at The Greenbrier. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-181238 ORIG FILE ID: 20140728_jla_tb7_356.jpg (Photo: Michael Thomas Shroyer, Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports)

Saints trade Brandin Cooks to Patriots for No. 32 pick

Mere hours after trading for Kony Ealy, the New England Patriots weren't done dealing with the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to New England in exchange for a package that includes the Patriots' first-round pick (No. 32), the team confirmed Saturday. The Patriots sent New Orleans a 2017 third-round selection (pick No. 103, the compensatory selection acquired from Cleveland in the Jamie Collins deal) in exchange for the Saints' fourth-round pick (No. 118).

Long rumored, this swap was sitting on the back burner during the first afternoons of free agency, while New Orleans signed wide receiver Ted Ginn and New England finalized a trade for tight end Dwayne Allen. Rapoport said as recently as Friday morning that negotiations between the two clubs could last up until the draft in late April.

Talks were reportedly hinging on what the Saints would receive in return for Cooks. New Orleans wanted the Patriots' No. 32 pick, while New England didn't want to part with cornerback Malcolm Butler. The sides compromised Friday evening.

The move marks the end of a month-long attempt by the Saints to deal Cooks, who was unhappy with his role last season in New Orleans. The resulting trade ends up looking like a win-win for both clubs, as the Saints rid themselves of a messy relationship and receive a first-round selection in return, one that will be used to beef up their defense, Rapoport reports.

In Foxborough, Cooks has the opportunity for a fresh start with yet another future Hall of Fame quarterback. Going from Drew Brees to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, the speedy wideout will add a new dimension to an already dynamic, shape-shifting Patriots offense. Cooks' ability to take the top off defenses with blazing pace is an attribute not utilized in Foxborough since the days of Randy Moss and should scare NFL defenses for at least next season.

In the final year of his four-year rookie deal, Cooks will be due an extension at the end of the year if the Patriots intend to keep the wideout going forward. That scenario turns Cooks' stay in New England into a "prove-it" year, joining recent signees Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor as wide receivers with a lot on the line in 2017.

Brandin Cooks trade could mark new chapter for forward-thinking Patriots

Bill Belichick had been watching Brandin Cooks. For a long time, too.

Each of the past two seasons, the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints held joint practices during training camp. So that Belichick swung a deal Friday night, sending the No. 32 pick in April's NFL draft and a third-round selection to the Saints for the speedy receiver and a fourth-round pick, shouldn’t be a surprise.

Back in August 2016, the teams ran through a scrimmage on a sun-scorched morning in Foxborough, Mass. But before the whistle blew, Belichick gave some high praise for the young standout.

“Plus,” Belichick said then, after he listed some Saints weapons, “they have Cooks. It doesn’t get much better than him.”

That was before Cooks plucked two back-shoulder throws off of cornerback Malcolm Butler in the scrimmage. One went for a huge gain, the other for a touchdown. He dominated Butler all day long.

So now with Cooks, as well as former Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (also acquired in a trade this week), the reigning Super Bowl champions get younger and faster, and their offense projects to be even better.

Better than the unit that dazed the Atlanta Falcons to the largest comeback in Super Bowl history just one month ago. You know, the one that ranked third in the NFL in scoring (27.6 points per game) and fourth in total offense (386.2 yards per game) during the regular season.

Picture this: When Tom Brady breaks the huddle Week 1, he should have a healthy Rob Gronkowski – one of the toughest matchups in the NFL – flanked just off of the line of scrimmage. He’ll have Julian Edelman in the slot, Cooks on the outside, and blossoming deep threat Chris Hogan on the other sideline. Versatile running back Dion Lewis will be in the backfield next to Brady.

That should be New England’s bread-and-butter personnel package.

Cooks, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds three years ago, injects speed into the lineup. He, like just about all of New England’s pass-catching options, can move around the formation and play inside, outside or even in the backfield.

But the Patriots will also have Allen, slot target Danny Amendola, young receiver Malcolm Mitchell, multi-purpose back and Super Bowl LI MVP James White to rotate in.

The personnel additions also give the Patriots – who love mixing and matching players in different formations to exploit opposing weaknesses – the flexibility to go to four- and five-receiver sets, as well as two-tight-end looks and plays with multiple backs.

Tight end Martellus Bennett's departure to the Green Bay Packers on Friday stands as one of the lone hits to the offense. He was instrumental in New England’s run blocking schemes and Brady often relied on his hands to make big catches.

But Bennett just turned 30 years old. Allen is 27, is under contract through the 2019 season, and comes at a cheaper salary. And in 2014, Belichick said Allen was one of the best blocking tight ends the Patriots would see.

Cooks, however, could be a Patriots star for years to come.

Entering his fourth-season at 23, he has caught 162 passes for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns in the last two years. Cooks is set to play out the final year of his rookie contract at an affordable rate, and New England has a fifth-year option it can exercise for the 2018 season, which should be worth around $8 million.

Edelman posted a productive season in 2016, but he’ll be 31 in May. Amendola is 31 now. Both are entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Cooks is a more dynamic pass-catching threat than anyone currently on New England’s roster. Pulling the trigger on this trade shows why the Patriots are unique in today's NFL: they resist complacency and embrace change.

Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, they are uncovering value in free agency, bartering for talented and young castaways, and – above all – improving. That stands in stark contrast to many top contenders, who can be tentative to tinker with a thriving roster. At this, there is no team in the NFL that is better.

And because of this, the Patriots are entrenching themselves as favorites to add to their trophy case in 2017 – and potentially beyond.

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