Like many other Saints fans, I wasn’t thrilled by the terms of the trade that sent Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots Friday evening. It wasn’t anything to do with the #18 pick or not getting Malcolm Butler (who couldn’t be traded anyway due to his unsigned tender) that bothered me. It was the inclusion of the Saints’ 4th round pick. Why did they include that pick? Cooks alone should have warranted #32 plus a mid-rounder. It wasn’t until I looked into the resulting draft order that it made sense.
The 4th round pick is an important piece of this deal for the Patriots. Sean Payton made it clear multiple times that the Saints were seeking a mid-1st round pick for Cooks as well as an additional pick or picks in 2018. Since #32 obviously is not in the middle of the 1st round it would make sense that the Saints would insist that the additional pick be in this year’s draft instead. Giving up their 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick would have left New England with only two draft picks prior to the mid to late 5th round this year. That is why the Patriots likely insisted on including the Saints’ 4th round pick…..even though they will never get to use it.
Under the terms of the Deflategate penalties handed down by Roger Goodell, the Patriots were required to forfeit both their 2016 1st round pick as well as their 2017 4th round pick. Since they only had one 4th round pick this year (#132 prior to the trade), the forfeiture would have left them with no picks for nearly two full rounds in the middle of a loaded draft. However, in the event that the Patriots have multiple 4th round picks this year, they forfeit only the highest pick of the round. As a result, the pick New England received from the Saints in the Cooks trade will be forfeited. By giving up that pick though, they regain their later pick toward the back of the round (#131 post-trade).
So while the Saints may have sent the Patriots a high 4th round pick, by the time it got to New England it was down to almost a 5th.