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Brandin Cooks keeps lighting it up with the Rams. How do you think that makes Tom Brady feel?

Alex Reimer
September 28, 2018 - 11:59 am

When Brandin Cooks beat Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr for a 47-yard touchdown pass Thursday, it was easy to imagine Tom Brady looking wistfully at the television in his Brookline abode, wondering what could have been. One of the central tenants of Brady’s favorite book and lifeblood, “The Four Agreements,” is to not hold grudges. But the Patriots’ quarterback must hold some animus towards Bill Belichick for the laughable receiving corps he’s been handed through the first month of the season.

The Patriots’ dire situation at wideout, and how easy it was to avoid, was spelled out clearly in the Rams’ 38-31 victory over the Vikings Thursday. 

Two weeks ago, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran chronicled how the Patriots left themselves bare at the receiver position. Since the Patriots didn’t maximize Jimmy Garoppolo’s value –– Belichick reportedly only called the 49ers and settled for a second-round pick –– they traded Cooks prior to the NFL Draft for capital. That would’ve been unnecessary, Curran writes, if Belichick handled the Garoppolo situation properly.

In isolation, the Patriots made out well with the Cooks trade. They surrendered the No. 32 overall selection to acquire him, and wound up getting the No. 23 pick back. Plus, they seemingly had no plans to re-sign him past this season, whereas the Rams extended Cooks for nearly $50 million guaranteed.

But the Patriots could’ve held onto Cooks into the season, which would’ve given them an opportunity to evaluate the receiver position. Through three games, Patriots wideouts have 27 catches and 265 yards. Cooks, meanwhile, has 26 receptions and 452 yards. (Also, offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, who was taken with the No. 23 selection, is out for the season due to an Achilles tear.)

The fact is, the Patriots didn’t invest in this year’s team, even though Brady is 41. In addition to Cooks, they allowed Danny Amendola to sign with the Dolphins and Dion Lewis to head to Tennessee. And it could’ve been worse. If Belichick had his way, Rob Gronkowski would be wearing Lions blue right now.

Belichick never goes all-in on a particular season. But keeping Cooks wouldn’t have prohibited the Patriots from planning for the future. This was misplayed, and it couldn’t have been clearer than it was when he was bursting past Vikings’ defenders in primetime.