5 of the worst New England Patriots trades during the Bill Belichick era

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Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018

We're heading into the 2023 season, and the Patriots are still looking for their clear-cut WR1, yet Belichick thought it was a great idea to trade a perfectly good one away in 2018.

When they first acquired Brandin Cooks via trade with the Saints in 2017, it seemed like a fair deal for a receiver coming off back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons. New England gave up their first-round draft pick that year, plus a third-rounder in exchange for Cooks, and received a fourth-round pick in return.

The Patriots needed a talented receiver to replace the loss of Julian Edelman for the season, who went down with a torn ACL in the year's final preseason game. Cooks was more than qualified to be that guy and continued his impressive streak during his one season in Foxboro.

He immediately became one of Brady's go-to guys, totaling 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. Both Cooks and Rob Gronkowski finished the season part of the 1k club, the first receiving duo to accomplish that since the 2011 season.

Throughout the season, he continued to impress with his performance and incredible catches that many remember to this day, including the tip-toe touchdown against the Texans. And for the first time in his career, Cooks was part of a team that played in the playoffs and ended the year in the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, in that championship game against the Eagles, he was ruled out with a concussion early in the second quarter. It was the last time he suited up with the Patriots before he was traded for the second time in his young career.

A few weeks before the draft, Belichick traded Cooks and a 2018 fourth-rounder to the Rams for a first-round pick (that ended up being Isaiah Wynn) and a sixth-round selection.

Other than wanting to get back into the first round of the draft, there was no real indication of why the Patriots traded Cooks after such a successful season. He was exactly what the team needed then and could have benefitted if they kept him, especially since they lost Danny Amendola in free agency.

Plus, the first-round pick they got in return for the trade wound up being a player that is no longer on the team five years later, a player that was consistent and became a liability to the offensive line during his time in New England, which makes this trade even more questionable.