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Bill Belichick has built a reputation of always being two steps ahead. It’s an accurate representation for the most part, as his constant foresight has helped the New England Patriots in the past. With all those success stories comes failures, however.
Belichick’s attempt to stay ahead has actually put his team behind. Why? Because of the way the Tom Brady situation unfolded a few years ago.
According to Albert Breer with Sports Illustrated, the acquisition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks might’ve been the beginning of the end for the New England dynasty. Here is Breer’s explanation from a recent article:
“Speaking of the Patriots’ rebuild, I think Belichick’s actually been forthright in saying things went sideways when Brady found a way to maintain his level of play. And my smoking gun in the whole thing is Brandin Cooks. My understanding is Cooks was initially acquired, in 2017, as a piece for Jimmy Garoppolo, not Brady—with the feeling being that the Patriots would play more of a downfield game once Garoppolo became the quarterback, presumably in 2018.”
So, Cooks was basically brought in for Garoppolo. This move was not designed to help in the immediate but in the long term, with the intention of moving on from Brady. That makes sense, considering Belichick is good at cutting the cord with his veterans at the right time.
In this particular case, however, Belichick was wrong. Brady wasn’t close to being done, which is reflected by his MVP and championship season in 2018 and the Super Bowl he just won in Tampa Bay. No one can blame Belichick for trying to prepare for life after Brady, though.
In some ways, it’s unfortunate that Brady has continued his strong play. It forced the Patriots to ship Garoppolo and Cooks off, which significantly slowed down the rebuilding process now that it really is time to move on from Brady. With lingering cap space issues and failing draft picks, things aren’t great in New England.
They did get another Super Bowl out of the situation in 2018, though. That’s a positive.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.