By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
First things first…This is not an anti-Randy Moss piece. Sorry Felger.
This is also not about comparing the two as players. Brandin Cooks is one of the better receivers in the league over few year stretch, but Randy Moss is (at least) the second-best wide receiver to ever play the game. Cooks isn’t in his stratosphere.
No, this is about the seemingly undue reputation Cooks time with the Patriots has been given just because he got concussed in a Super Bowl. While yes that was a dumb play, it’s unfair to let it erase a highly productive season.
This topic has reared its ugly head again as the Patriots find themselves in pursuit of a top-flight wide receiver. The last time Bill Belichick was in a similar spot, he acquired Cooks from the New Orleans Saints for a first round pick.
As many (including 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Matt Dolloff) have pointed out, it may be time for the Patriots to replicate that move. Those calls have been met with resistance from those who ‘don’t want to see another Brandin Cooks trade.’ Cooks’ Patriots’ career has somehow become intertwined with the run of bad draft picks and washed up veterans the team has brought in at the position over the last five years. While people have said trading for an elite pass catcher ‘is bound to be another bust’, they seem to forget the other option is the Aaron Dobson’s and Kenny Britt’s of the world.
There are complaints that the Patriots gave up a first-round pick for Cooks, when in reality Cooks would have been the top-ranked receiver had he been in that draft class. Folks like to claim he ‘didn’t fit’ in New England, despite somehow finishing as a top-15 receiver in yards and touchdowns without having Julian Edelman as coverage protection. If the Patriots had a guy like that in 2019, the offense would have been revolutionized.
Another knock is that Cooks was too expensive for the Patriots to lock up long term and they had to trade him ‘after giving up a first round pick the year before.’ That argument willfully ignores that fact that not only did they receive a first round pick back for Cooks, it was a higher pick (23rd overall) than the one they originally gave up (32nd).
In the end, the Patriots gave up a pick to get an elite talent at the wide receiver position, lost in a Super Bowl with that player after being let down by the defense, then traded him for a higher pick than the one they originally gave up. You know who else’s Patriots tenure followed that exact same career path?
The Patriots acquired Moss from the Raiders for a fourth-round pick during the 2007 NFL Draft. In his first season in New England he was the premier target in the league, although the team ended up losing the Super Bowl. When it was determined he was no longer a fit for the organization, he was was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round pick.
Among non-slot receivers (Brown, Welker, Edelman) of the Brady/Belichick era, the two best single-season performances far and away are from Randy Moss and Brandin Cooks. It’s no coincidence all three of Tom Brady’s MVP and First-Team All-Pro seasons (2007, 2010, 2017) came with Moss or Cooks on the roster.
The Randy Moss trade will never happen again. That was a fluke and the Raiders being a poorly run organization. If the Patriots want to acquire another guy to line up outside and run the offense through opposite Edelman, it’s going to cost them. While Cooks’ Patriots’ career may have some negative memories attached, the series of transactions that brought him to and from New England ultimately were all won by Bill Belichick.
If Patriots fans want to see Tom Brady back and dominating at Gillette Stadium, they should be hoping Belichick can pull off another Brandin Cooks this offseason.