Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday 7: Settling the Brandin Cooks debate — was it good trade for Patriots?

Ryan Hannable
September 30, 2018 - 6:18 am

Related: Patriots-Dolphins preview

1. Following Brandin Cooks’ tremendous start to the year with the Rams — 26 receptions for 452 yards and a touchdown in four games — the Patriots trading him away this offseason has been a big topic of discussion in recent days. It’s a multi-layered topic. First, Cooks was under contract for 2018 for just under $8.5 million, but the Patriots likely were not going to be able to re-sign him (he signed a deal worth $88 million over six seasons). At $8.5 million, it was not a cap space issue. New England decided it was worth trading him to get something for him — a 2018 first-round pick — instead of having him play one more season and then getting a compensatory pick, likely a third-rounder, once he signed with another team. Getting a first-round pick back was a great return, so it’s really hard to criticize the Patriots for that, but there are other things worth questioning. The biggest issue is how they replaced him. New England brought in, or back, a bunch of veteran wide outs — Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, and Eric Decker — hoping one or two would hit. Unfortunately for them, it hasn’t worked out the way they had hoped. While Cooks certainly has his faults, and is a better fit in the Rams’ system, he was valuable to the Patriots. He recorded over 1,000 yards receiving on top of drawing multiple pass interference penalties. Tom Brady could certainly use a player who can stretch the defense like him right now. So, was it a good trade for the Patriots? The answer is it is too early to tell. Isaiah Wynn was the player the Patriots selected No. 23 overall and while he’s out for the year, what if he turns into the future left tackle? If he has a successful career in New England, it was a good trade. If he doesn’t, then any criticism is on the table. Bottom line, it’s too early to say, but the biggest complaint now shouldn’t be the trade, it’s the receivers the team thought it could count on.

2. Speaking of the wide receiver position, it appears Brady is a little frustrated with the instability of the position and how many different players have been in and out since training camp. The quarterback has subtly eluded to it a few times this season, including Friday. “Every day we’re just learning more and more,” Brady said when asked about Josh Gordon. “Anytime you incorporate players and that’s just – there’s a process that you go through and you’re trying to get familiar with different players and what they do. We’ve incorporated quite a few this year and just try to do the best you can.” When he’s 41 years old and is in his 19th season, can you blame him for getting a little agitated with all the extra time he’s needed to put in getting new players up to speed?

3. Will Gordon play on Sunday? That is one of the biggest questions going in, and the answer to that is no one really knows. The former Browns wide out has officially been limited in practice all week and whenever players on the team are asked about him, they say he’s doing what he can off the field with studying the playbook, but no one will say how he looks on the field. Maybe this is because he hasn’t really done much on the field when it comes to team drills and that’s why. If that is the case, expect him to be inactive for a second straight week.

4. It was evident this week, and in the past, that Bill Belichick really likes Adam Gase. One theory is Gase is a gameplan team like the Patriots where it’s different every week, and that is a unique style across the league. The Patriots coach had a lot of praise for him this week at his press conferences. It isn’t just Belichick either, as last year in Miami prior to the Monday night game, Brady spoke with the Miami coach for an extended period of time a few hours before kickoff on the field.

5. With Ja’Whaun Bentley going on injured reserve this week, it’s worth noting the team drafted nine players this year and six of them are on injured reserve. The only players still active are Sony Michel, Keion Crossen, Danny Etling (practice squad). In addition, the Patriots have selected 13 players in the last two seasons and those players have combined to play in 29 games (Deatrich Wise has 19 of them). This is more than just bad luck, it’s becoming a trend of taking risks on players, but also just making some poor decisions.

6. One would have to imagine another move will be coming at the running back position. The Patriots cannot go through the rest of the season with just Sony Michel, James White and Kenjon Barner. If this continues, a lot will be put on Michel’s plate and that just seems like too much not only the fact he’s a rookie, but also a physical standpoint as well.

7. It’s a short week with the Colts coming to town for Thursday Night Football. Being the home team, the Patriots have an advantage as home teams are a perfect 4-0 this year, but don’t expect it to be an easy game. Thursday games are always difficult and the Colts are a tough team. It will also be the return of Julian Edelman, but expectations need to be tempered as he’s been away for over a month. He may not even be conditioned to get his normal workload, so just don’t expect a vintage Edelman night.