BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, but it’s not exactly the same team that was in Houston a year ago.
New England had an aggressive offseason, with big signings and surprising trades. Not every move worked out, but they’re in another Super Bowl. They must have done some things right.
“The personnel department has done a great job through the years of building a team,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “That comes in a lot of areas.”
Let’s look back and grade some of the Patriots’ biggest moves as they tweaked the roster to get right back to Super Bowl LII:
Brandin Cooks trade
The biggest move was probably the trade with the New Orleans Saints to land Cooks. The Patriots traded a first-round pick to the Saints, and that pick became starting offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. That move worked out well for the Saints, too. Cooks posted a career-best 16.6 yards per reception and had his third straight 1,000-yard season. His biggest moment was probably a game-winning touchdown catch in the final seconds of a Week 3 game against the Houston Texans, though a 100-yard game in a comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game was huge, as well.
Cooks gave the Patriots an outside receiving threat and another dynamic playmaker to go with Rob Gronkowski, though there was no guarantee the transition would be easy. Many receivers struggle coming over to the Patriots’ offense. Cooks credited quarterback Tom Brady for working with him in the offseason.
“He did a great job in the offseason on catching me up, so I wasn’t left behind when the season came,” Cooks said.
Verdict: Worked out for the Patriots (and the Saints too)
Signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore
The Patriots don’t often give out big-money deals, so the five-year, $65 million deal to Gilmore was a surprise. Gilmore started a bit slow but came on strong, and he made one of the biggest plays of the Patriots’ AFC title game win when he knocked down a fourth-down pass by the Jaguars in the final minutes.
The Patriots offered him a ton of money, but there were other reasons for him to join the Patriots. Once again, the
“To be in this position, to be able to win a championship, that’s the reason I came here,” Gilmore said.
t” content=”<strong>Verdict:</strong> Expensive bu