Pair of trades net Pats re­ceiver Cooks, DE Ealy

New Eng­land sends first-round pick to Saints in deal.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

A per­son fa­mil­iar with the deal says the New Or­leans Saints have agreed to trade re­ceiver Brandin Cooks to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots.

The Pa­tri­ots sent their 2017 first-round se­lec­tion and a third-round pick to New Or­leans for Cooks while the Saints will send back a fourth-round pick, said the per­son who spoke Fri­day to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the teams have not an­nounced the deal.

In Cooks, 23, the Pa­tri­ots add another speedy and pro­duc­tive young re­ceiver to a group that al­ready in­cludes Chris Ho­gan, Mal­colm Mitchell and vet­er­ans Ju­lian Edel­man and Danny Amen­dola.

Cooks is com­ing off backto-back 1,100-yard re­ceiv­ing sea­sons, in which he also had 17 touch­downs.

Mean­while, the Saints are stock­pil­ing draft picks and will have five selections in the first three rounds in April.

Ear­lier in the day, the Pan­thers traded fourth-year de­fen­sive end Kony Ealy and a third-round draft pick to New Eng­land for the Pa­tri­ots’ se­cond-round pick. The Pan­thers moved up eight spots by swap­ping their thir­dround pick (72nd over­all) for the Pats’ se­cond-round pick (64).

It’s a stun­ning fall from grace for Ealy, who might have been the MVP of Su­per Bowl 50 had the Pan­thers beaten the Bron­cos. Ealy had three sacks, an in­ter­cep­tion, a forced fum­ble and a fum­ble re­cov­ery against Pey­ton Man­ning in the Bron­cos’ 24-10 vic­tory in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

But Ealy failed to build on his big night. He had five sacks all of last sea­son and frus­trated coaches with a stub­born streak. Ealy, a se­cond-round pick in 2014, lost his start­ing job to Wes Hor­ton. In all, Ealy had 14 sacks in three sea­sons in Carolina.

Pan­thers: Julius Pep­pers, Carolina’s ca­reer sacks leader and No. 5 on the NFL list, left Green Bay to re­turn to the team that drafted him se­cond over­all in 2002. The 37-year-old Pep­pers has 143½ sacks dur­ing 15 NFL sea­sons, eight of those for the Pan­thers (2002-09).

Pack­ers: Signed free agent Martel­lus Ben­nett, giv­ing quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers a pro­lific pass-catch­ing tar­get at tight end. Terms of the deal were not an­nounced by gen­eral man­ager Ted Thomp­son.

The ad­di­tion of Ben­nett likely means that last year’s starter, Jared Cook, won’t re­turn to Green Bay. But Ben­nett should be more than ca­pa­ble of mak­ing up for Cook’s pro­duc­tion. The nineyear vet­eran played last sea­son for New Eng­land, mak­ing 55 catches for 701 yards and seven touch­downs over 16 games. Ben­nett has 50-plus re­cep­tions in each of the past five sea­sons. Red­skins: Ter­relle Pryor signed a one-year con­tract worth up to $8 mil­lion as the team be­gan the process of re­plac­ing their two top re­ceivers who left in free agency, Pierre Gar­con and DeSean Jack­son.

The 27-year-old Pryor spent the past two sea­sons with the Browns, in­clud­ing a break­through 2016 — his first year as a full-time wide­out — with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touch­downs.

Browns: Robert Grif­fin III is scram­bling again. The in­jury-prone quar­ter­back was re­leased Fri­day after one flawed sea­son in Cleve­land, which re­mains in search of a QB to turn around the on­ce­proud fran­chise. The Browns ter­mi­nated Grif­fin’s con­tract one day be­fore he was due a $750,000 ros­ter bonus.

Car­di­nals: Made the big in­vest­ment they knew would be re­quired after trad­ing for Chan­dler Jones a year ago, sign­ing him to a five-year, $82.5 mil­lion, with $53 mil­lion guar­an­teed. The agree­ment comes after the Car­di­nals placed the fran­chise tag on Jones, ac­quired in a trade with New Eng­land be­fore last sea­son, to pre­vent him from be­com­ing a free agent. Dol­phins: Long­time Steel­ers line­backer Lawrence Tim­mons signed a $12 mil­lion, two-year con­tract with Mi­ami, one of sev­eral moves de­signed to shore up a de­fense that al­lowed a fran­chise-record 6,122 yards last year. Cowboys: Agreed to terms to bring back wide­out Ter­rance Wil­liams. Wil­liams, the No. 2 re­ceiver be­hind Dez Bryant, is re­port­edly get­ting a $17 mil­lion, fouryear con­tract.

Vik­ings: Fi­nal­ized their con­tract with for­mer Lions tackle Ri­ley Reiff and also agreed to terms with another free-agent tackle, Mike Rem­mers, formerly of the Pan­thers. Colts: Signed free-agent lineback­ers Jabaal Sheard (Pa­tri­ots) and John Si­mon (Tex­ans). Line­backer Barke­vi­ous Mingo (Pa­tri­ots) signed with the Colts on Thurs­day.

Brandin Cooks is com­ing off two 1,100-yard sea­sons.

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