Brandin Cooks - 2017
- 16 games
- 65 receptions for 1,082 yards
- 7 touchdowns
- 16.6 yards per reception - best of career
In one of the more shocking trades in recent NFL history, when the Saints traded their back-to-back 1,000-yard season wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots in 2017, it was nearly unfathomable. But like others on this list, his arrival in New England couldn't have come at a better time.
Throughout Bill Belichick's tenure as head coach, there haven't been many times when the offense had spectacular weapons for Tom Brady to work with. For most seasons before the Cooks trade, much of the production went through Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski, both of whom were essential to the latter half of the dynasty.
But since Edelman suffered a season-ending injury during the last preseason game, Cooks was very much needed and quickly rose to the top of the depth chart ahead of Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan.
He was precisely the WR1 Brady needed at that point in his career, becoming the go-to target each and every game.
Cooks added another 1,000-yard season to his resume, totaling 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns through all 16 games. And he was the most productive and reliable receiver during the iconic AFC Championship Game against the Jaguars, totaling six receptions for 100 yards.
But that's, unfortunately, where Cooks' time ended in New England.
The Patriots went on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl against the Eagles. Shortly after the second quarter began, Cooks was knocked out by a hit to the head and put into concussion protocol, forcing him to miss the remainder of the game.
A few months later, he was once again traded, but this time to the Los Angeles Rams for a first-round pick, which became Isaiah Wynn, and a sixth-round pick. Since then, the Patriots have struggled to find a reliable and game-changing WR1, making fans wonder what could have been had Cooks remained with the team in the years that followed the Super Bowl LII loss.