Wide receiver Brandin Cooks isn't a stranger to trades. After three years in New Orleans, the Saints traded him to the Patriots in exchange for a first- and fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Just over a year later, Cooks is on the move from the East to West Coast — again in exchange for a first-round pick.
"People have asked me, are you upset? Absolutely not," Cooks said last week. "I'm able to play this game that millions would love to be in my shoes. And the fact [that it's for] another first rounder? My family, they joke about it like, 'You've been drafted in the first round three times, has anyone done that?' So we try to take the positive out of everything. There's a lot of positives in this one just like the last one. I can't complain at all."
That's the kind of positive attitude Cooks appears to bring to every aspect of his life. Rams general manager Les Snead made that clear by stating at the beginning of the wide receiver's introductory press conference, "I told Brandin and I was honest when I told him, that if my son could grow up to be half as respected as this guys was during the vetting process I'd be a jacked father for sure. So, that just lets you know what kind of kid this is."
And as happy as Snead and head coach Sean McVay seem to be about adding Cooks, the wide receiver appears to be on the same page.
"I'm overcome with joy and gratitude to be able to have a special opportunity like this," Cooks said. "It's an extreme blessing. Words can't explain it. I'm glad to be back on the West Coast and I'm looking forward to playing for such a great organization."
A Stockton, Calif. native, Cooks said he was excited when he first heard about the trade. He was glad to receive a call from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick informing him of the trade, rather than finding out on television or through social media. Then he got on the phone with a few people from his new team, including McVay and wide receivers coach Eric Yarber.
"Right off the bat, the excitement — it just felt like it was a family atmosphere right away," Cooks said. "I know those guys were just excited just as much as I was and being able to talk with them right off the bat and in a situation like this is huge. I thanked them for this opportunity and I look forward to getting to work."
"You can see both of us were laughing and smiling through the phone," Yarber said. "We didn't need to see our faces, just our voices — we both were elated. He was happy to be here and I was happy to have him just like the rest of the staff members."
While both Snead and McVay confirmed last week the Rams have had interest in acquiring Cooks dating back to a year ago, the wide receiver understandably wasn't necessarily paying much attention to Los Angeles in that time. Cooks did say that even from afar, he could tell that the Rams are a young, talented team growing at a fast rate. And now that he's gotten to meet McVay in person and talk with him a bit, Cooks has a particularly positive impression of McVay.
Best photos of newly acquired WR Brandin Cooks. (Photos by AP)
"[He's] someone that's on fire for this game — that breathes, eats, and sleeps for ball, and wants to give his team the best that he can possibly give to help win games," Cooks said. "The guy is studying already. To be able to see that from a head coach, you have a ton of respect for that and it makes you want to go harder as a player because you know he's going to put everything into it."
But based on Cooks' reputation, he might not need that extra motivation. According to a report from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB, a Patriots assistant told McVay just after the trade was executed that Cooks didn't miss a single practice rep during the 2017 season.
Asked about the report, Cooks said he takes a lot of pride in his availability.
"At the end of the day it's God's grace to be able to be out there. And, I mean, I'm so young still," Cooks said. "To be able to go out there and if I'm not feeling broken, I feel like I should be out there especially at this young age. So I take pride in that. But at the end of the day it's a blessing in God's grace that I'm able to do so."
Now that the trade is official, Cooks is mainly looking forward to getting to work with his new teammates.
"I come and I just go to work," Cooks said. "I don't want the glory, I don't want to fame. I just come in and always my whole life just wanted to do the best that I can do and be the best that I can be to help my team. I'm not looking for anything selfishly, I just want to help my team whatever case I can to be able to win games at the end of the day and do it in a quiet format.
"I love you guys [the media] and I love meeting everyone," Cooks later added, "but at the end of the day I want to get to work with the fellas and be able to start to build that rapport together leading up to this year."
He'll get that chance shortly with the onset of the offseason program on April 16.