Although it wasn’t much of a surprise given all the rumors last week, once it became official last Friday there were some questions of why exactly did the Saints trade Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

Did Cooks want out? Did the Saints not want him?

Sean Payton said the move to trade Brandin Cooks was to improve the defense. (Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports)

Sean Payton said the move to trade Brandin Cooks was to improve the defense. (Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports)

Although it wasn’t much of a surprise given all the rumors last week, once it became official last Friday there were some questions of why exactly did the Saints trade Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

Did Cooks want out? Did the Saints no want him?

Speaking to Mile High Sports in Denver, head coach Sean Payton said it had nothing to do with wide out Michael Thomas turning into a No. 1 receiver.

“I don’t know that in part that it had anything to do with our decision to trade Brandin,” Payton said. “I think for us it’s improving defensively, and we’re looking closely at all of our options to do that. He was a player — when I talk about Brandin — we weren’t actively shopping him. A handful of teams had called regarding possibly acquiring him. He’s a fantastic guy, someone who worked really, really hard here.”

The Saints acquired the Patriots’ first-round pick (No. 32 overall) in the trade, which could either be used to draft a good player, or potentially be used in a trade for Malcolm Butler.

Ultimately, it seems like the trade was to help a poor defense.

“I think ultimately one of the challenges sometimes especially here in this offense is the ball gets spread around some, and yet you’re looking at a player who had over 1,200 yards receiving,” Payton said. “And it really got down to an opportunity to help improve our team possibly defensively. We’ll be able to look at it three years down the road with what we’re able to do with the first-round pick and also the third-round pick.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Over the past week or so, a lot has happened with Malcolm Butler and the Patriots.

Maybe Malcolm Butler will not be traded. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Maybe Malcolm Butler will not be traded. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Over the past week or so, a lot has happened with Malcolm Butler and the Patriots.

It appears the 27-year-old cornerback is not happy playing for $3.91 million as a restricted free agent on a first-round tender, especially after the team signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year deal worth a reported $65 million.

Butler visited with the Saints on Thursday where the two sides reportedly started talking about a long-term deal. For the Saints to acquire him, they would need to present Butler with a deal the Patriots would not match, and then give up their No. 11 overall pick, or the two teams could work out a trade.

While momentum is trending towards Butler playing 2017 with the Saints, Michael Lombardi, a former Patriots executive and current The Ringer staffer, believes he will return to the Patriots and play for his $3.91 first-round tender.

“I think Malcolm Butler signs his tender, goes to New England, and puts the onus on New England,” Lombardi said on The Ringer’s football podcast Thursday. “‘Play great, I’ll make a huge deal next year. I’ll be 28 in March. I’ll make a huge deal out on the open market.’ New England’s not going to franchise him.”

Lombardi doesn’t think he’s a fit for the Saints at this time.

“Why pay Malcolm Butler $13 million or $14 million a year, sign him to a long-term deal, and then have to turn around a draft pick, when you are basically buying a 27-year-old player?” Lombardi said. “You’d be better off drafting a young corner and hopefully developing him.”

Lombardi added: “I don’t understand why they would pay as much as they’re going to have to pay to get Malcolm Butler financially, and then reward the [Patriots] with a draft pick. I think they’re better off looking in the draft.”

Certainly, this is a situation worth monitoring in the coming days and weeks.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Kony Ealy didn't expect to be traded by the Panthers. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

Kony Ealy didn’t expect to be traded by the Panthers. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

With a number of defensive ends in Carolina, the Panthers felt they could not keep all of them and ended up by trading defensive end Kony Ealy to the Patriots along with a third-round pick in exchange for the Patriots’ second-round pick last Friday.

The trade caught Ealy off guard, but he understands the NFL is a business.

“No, but this is a business so you have to prepare for anything,” he said on a conference call Thursday when asked if he expected to be traded. “I’ve been preparing my whole life for different outcomes and obstacles so I try not to get up or down. It’s just another thing and another part of life. Just have to take your opportunities and make the most of them.”

Ealy, 25, was a second-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Missouri. He’s most known for his performance in Super Bowl 50 when he became the only player in Super Bowl history to record multiple sacks and record an interception in the game.

In his three seasons with the Panthers, he’s totaled 76 tackles and 14 sacks. The one knock on him his is inconsistency rushing the passer, which he will be asked to do as part of the Patriots’ rotation at defensive end. He’s had five sacks each of the last two seasons.

He’s looking forward to the opportunity of now playing for the Patriots.

“First of all, I would just like to thank the New England front office for choosing me, or allowing me to come and learn from the greats,” Ealy said. “Learning how to take my game to the next level. I am going to come in and try and contribute to another winning season.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Being a 26-year-old free agent, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy had a few opportunities with different teams, but in the end he chose to sign with the Patriots.

Guy, who has played for the Colts, Chargers and Ravens in his six seasons in the league, said it wasn’t a tough choice.

Lawrence Guy was already talking like a Patriot on Thursday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Lawrence Guy was already talking like a Patriot on Thursday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Being a 26-year-old free agent, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy had a few opportunities with different teams, but in the end he chose to sign with the Patriots.

Guy, who has played for the Colts, Chargers and Ravens in his six seasons in the league, said it wasn’t a tough choice.

“It’s a really good team,” he said on a conference call Thursday. “They have a great owner, Mr. Kraft and a great coach in Bill Belichick. It’s one of those opportunities that I got put in front of me and you can’t really pass up an opportunity to play for the Patriots. Great organization and I would like to continue my career here in New England.”

The defensive tackle has spent the last three years with the Ravens. Last season he had 28 tackles and a sack and in 2015 he had 4.5 sacks, but he’s most known for being a run-stopper.

Less than a week after signing, he was already speaking like a Patriot.

“My strength as a player [is] I am a hard worker,” Guy said. “That is one thing I pride myself on, is doing everything I can for the team and my fellow teammates. I am accountable. I want the person playing next to me, behind me, to count on me because they know if I need to be there I am going to be there. They can trust that I am understanding the game. I am understanding how everybody plays.

“It’s one of those things that I pride myself in — I am going to go out there and every single play I am going to give it my best and every single play no doubt that you’re going to look at me like, ‘OK, he’s a good player and he wants to go out there and play some football.'”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

A day after agreeing to re-sign Dont’a Hightower, Bill Belichick is back on the scouting trail.

The coach was spotted at Vanderbilt’s pro day on Thursday. This comes after he was at Alabama’s last week. Belichick likes to be hands on in scouting players for the draft, so he will be seen at more and more of these as the weeks go on.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

A week after free agency started, Bovada has put out its Super Bowl 52 odds and the Patriots are far and away the favorites.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are Super Bowl 52 favorites. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are Super Bowl 52 favorites. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

A week after free agency started, Bovada has put out its Super Bowl 52 odds and the Patriots are far and away the favorites.

The Patriots currently have 4/1 odds to win Super Bowl 52, which is better than the 5/1 odds it had before free agency opened. The next closest teams are the Cowboys, Steelers and Packers at 10/1 odds.

Bovada also put out Brandin Cooks over/under’s for next year. They have over/under 6.5 touchdowns and over/under 900 receiving yards.

The Patriots have been very active in free agency by adding Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy, while only losing Martellus Bennett, Logan Ryan and potentially Malcolm Butler.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable