7 players the New England Patriots gave up on too soon in the Bill Belichick era

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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Brandin Cooks

When it was reported the Saints were trading star receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots in 2017, it was a shock as he had skyrocketed to success in just three seasons since being drafted into the NFL.

Despite being a questionable decision for New Orleans, it was a much-needed move for the Patriots, who were dealing with a dubious receiving corps after Julian Edelman suffered a season-ending injury in the third preseason game of the year.

Cooks immediately rose to the top of the depth chart and performed exactly how the team needed him to. He played in all 16 games of the regular season, totaling 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, even creating one of the most memorable touchdown grabs of the year with a game-sealing grab in the endzone on his tip-toes before landing out of bounds.

He went on to be a big contributor during the team's Super Bowl run that year, with his most impressive game being the AFC Championship against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, in the big game two weeks later, he was taken out of the Super Bowl after just one catch due to a concussion.

It was the last time Cooks would play for the Patriots, as he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams at the start of free agency just a few months later.

The receiver spent the next two seasons with his new team before being traded again to the Texans, where he became Houston's starting receiver for the next three years.

Since leaving the Patriots, Cooks has added three more 1,000-yard seasons to his resume, becoming only the second player in NFL history to total four 1,000-yard receiving seasons with four different teams in their career.

Because the Patriots have consistently found themselves searching for a game-changing receiver over the last several years, moving on from Cooks after just one season feels like an even bigger mistake than it had initially.