The Los Angeles Rams are in the center of another blockbuster trade, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who tweeted Tuesday that Brandin Cooks is headed from the New England Patriots to TinselTown for the 23rd overall pick in the draft.
The Rams will also receive the Patriots' fourth-rounder and send a sixth to Foxboro to consummate their acquisition of Cooks, the 24-year-old blazer coming off his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign, a one and done with the Patriots.
Remember, New England acquired Cooks from the New Orleans Saints just last year for the 32nd overall pick in the draft. Cooks led the Patriots in receiving, but there was always the possibility that a franchise generally loathe to shell out big bucks to wideouts would quickly move on from Cooks. It just wasn't expected that he'd be dealt one year later, when trades have taken over the NFL.
The Saints' first-rounder in 2014, Cooks can absolutely fly and brings the speed element that the Rams lost in free agency when Sammy Watkins signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. But it's worth noting that, one year after their acquisition of Watkins from Buffalo for a second-rounder ultimately amounted to a one-year rental, the Rams are taking on another game-breaking wideout from the same draft class nearing a monster payday.
And the Rams, of course, have perhaps the best player from that draft class, Aaron Donald, who needs to get paid, in addition to the best corner from the following year's draft, Marcus Peters, soon looking to cash in.
But the Rams clearly are in Super Bowl or bust mode this season, and there's a world of possibilities in pairing Cooks with Offensive MVP Todd Gurley, Comeback Player of the Year Jared Goff and Coach of the Year Sean McVay in the NFL's top-scoring offense.
From New England's perspective, it's hard not to wonder whether Bill Belichick is gearing up to shake up Round One of the NFL draft and the potential QB sweepstakes. The Patriots now have the 23rd and 31st overall picks in Round One and the 11th (Jimmy Garoppolo trade) and 31st picks in Round Two. That's sufficient ammunition to make a huge move up for a quarterback. Or a pass rusher. Or more front-seven or protection help. The Patriots have quite a few holes to plug after a lot of recent defections, from Nate Solder to Malcolm Butler to Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones.
But if this move was made by Belichick with a quarterback in mind, it makes sense. 40-year-old Tom Brady's plan to play another five years could be changing with the reported infighting in New England. And the Patriots obviously need a new contingency plan after Belichick begrudgingly dealt Garoppolo last year. This QB class, while talented, also has several prospects in need of considerable development time.
Then again, the departure of Cooks means Julian Edelman, coming off a torn ACL, is currently Brady's No. 1 weapon, and the MVP's lifeline, Danny Amendola, has also left this offseason. The Gronk trade rumors continue to persist too; could Belichick be gearing up to make a run at another available receiver from the 2014 draft class, Odell Beckham?
If this offseason has taught us anything, it's that absolutely nothing should come as a surprise by now.