At just 23 years old, Brandin Cooks is one of only three receivers in the NFL to have recorded 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. The other two? Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.
Unlike most off-seasons, the Patriots didn’t just acquire a solid, reliable receiver to add to Brady’s arsenal when they sent a first and third-round pick to New Orleans in exchange for Cook and a fourth-rounder last Friday. No disrespect to any of these guys, but this isn’t another Brandon Lloyd or Danny Amendola or Chris Hogan acquisition. For the first time in Tom Brady’s entire career, the Patriots’ have gotten their hands on a superstar-caliber wide receiver who is just entering his prime.
When the Pats brought in Randy Moss in 2007, Moss was 30 years old and four years removed from his last Pro Bowl selection. He was thought to be washed up until Brady gave him arguably the best season of his Hall of Fame career and two more productive ones after that just before he finally ran out of gas in his mid 30’s.
I’m not saying Cooks will be anywhere close to what Moss was. Randy is arguably the greatest receiver of all-time, not to mention he’s six inches taller so their styles of play are completely different. But Cooks is without a doubt the most explosive receiver Brady has ever played with besides Moss, and he’s still the same age as some rookies.
In his 17 years in the NFL, Tom Brady has never been blessed with the opportunity to play with a young receiver with this type of potential. Brandin Cooks might not be a household name like Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., or Julio Jones, but he’s also younger than all of those guys.
Playing with the greatest quarterback of all-time who is still in his seemingly endless prime should catapult Cooks into that elite category in 2017. The 5’10” former first-round draft pick finished seventh in the NFL in receiving yards last season and was tied for the fifth most touchdowns with 8. Don’t be surprised if he cracks the top three in both categories next year.
Here are the kinds of electrifying plays we have to look forward to, but just picture an even better quarterback throwing to him (no disrespect to Drew Brees):
By making this move, the Patriots have removed any doubt that they’ll be back in the Super Bowl next February if they can just get their defense squared away. The additions of Stephon Gilmore and Lawrence Guy make things a little easier, and now we’ll have to wait and see what happens with Malcolm Butler and Dont’a Hightower. But it’s hard not to be pleased with this off-season so far when you look at how much the receiving corps just improved.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour