It felt like things were moving pretty quickly on Day 1 of the new league year. The Patriots had added a big-money corner, and soon thereafter it was reported by ESPN that they were considering trading Malcolm Butler to the Saints for Brandin Cooks.
That potential deal was not executed by the time the clock hit midnight, but it sounds as though there's a chance something happens with Cooks before the weekend begins.
According to former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff and Ringer NFL analyst Mike Lombardi, the Saints are expected to make a decision on Cooks soon and the Patriots are still in play. The Titans, whose general manager is former Patriots executive Jon Robinson, are also in the running for the 23-year-old dynamic wideout.
Player-for-player deals are a rarity in the NFL, but the Cooks-for-Butler swap would make some sense if that's how it were to break down.
The Patriots have numbers at the cornerback position with Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and last year's second-round pick Cyrus Jones all currently on the roster. Though Butler has proven to be the best of that group over the last two years, the team is paying Gilmore like a No. 1 guy.
The Saints, on the other hand, are desperate for defensive help. The also seem to be positioning themselves to move on from Cooks, who was unhappy with his role last season.
The Patriots have loads of respect for the shifty former first-round pick who had strong performances against New England in recent preseason games and joint training camp practices. With his straight-line speed and short-area quickness, Cooks appears to have the versatile skill set to play both outside and in the slot that the Patriots covet.
If the Patriots hoped to move Butler, they wouldn't be able to do that until he's under contract. He has been tendered at the first-round level, worth $3.91 million, but would need to sign that tender before he could be dealt.
Cooks is under contract to make $1.56 million in 2017. As a first-round pick in 2014, he has a fifth-year option bonus that will be worth about $8 million.