FOXBORO -- The amount of praise that Sean Payton heaped on former Saints receiver Brandin Cooks on Wednesday was significant. Great athlete. Great teammate. The kind of guy, it sounded like, that a team might like to keep around.
"He's a great competitor who comes to work every day with an intensity," Payton said during a conference call. "Each rep, there's not really an off-speed rep for him. The way he prepares . . . He's a good teammate. Well-respected."
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So why trade him? The Saints sent Cooks to New England, giving Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels one of the better big-play threats in the league, in exchange for the No. 32 overall selection in this year's draft. It was a sign that Payton and the Saints determined that their roster simply wasn't where it needed to be.
They had plenty of weapons offensively. They had one of the great quarterbacks of this era. But the offensive line was an area that needed fixing, and trading Cooks helped them to address it quickly.
Have to give something to get something, as Bill Belichick says.
"For us, you're constantly looking at how can you improve some of the areas where you feel like you're lean," Payton explained. "We just felt like [Cooks] was going to be one of the assests possibly that we could utilize. His personality, each day you know exactly what you're getting and that's a good thing. He's got a great smile on his face. There are a lot of things to like."
Through one week of the regular season, it's clear that the Patriots liked what they got on their end of the deal. Cooks caught three passes against the Chiefs for 88 yards -- including a long of 54 yards -- and drew a handful of penalties when Kansas City defensive backs got handsy trying to run with him.
In a night that was largely forgettable for Belichick's club, Cooks was one of the few bright spots due to his quick adjustment to a new offense and a new role. Payton noted that Cooks has been used slightly differently in New England compared to his time in New Orleans.
"There's one difference, simply, he's playing more 'X,' and I think he played more Z in New Orleans," Payton said. "That's left and right, or weak and strong. He's playing in the same spots he played here. That would be the only thing. You see him getting down the fied, you see him stretiching the defense. Obviously he's someone you really have to pay attention to where he's at and stay on top of. He can run extremely well."
After scoring just 19 points in Minnesota in their opener on Monday night, maybe the Saints feel as though Cooks is a chess piece whose presence they could still benefit from. But clearly they're happy with the way the deal shook out themselves.
With the last pick in the first round, the Patriots pick, they took left tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The Wisconsin product played every snap against the Vikings at left tackle and appeared to largely hold his own against a talented Vikings front.
"He's kind of one of these guys who's an old soul. I mean that in a good way," Payton said. "He's a quick learner. He's got a poise about him. A presence. And I think that maturity has served him well, playing here in his rookie year in a tough position Week 1 . . . He's been a good addition."