Pair of trades net Pats receiver Cooks, DE Ealy
New England sends first-round pick to Saints in deal.
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.