Colin explains the message sent in New England by trading away Brandin Cooks

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Colin Cowherd offers up his opinion on the New England Patriots after they traded away WR Brandin Cooks. What will Bill Belichick do next?

- I love the draft. And I've always loved the draft. And the draft has always meant a lot to me. And I've got a-- you know, if you go to my phone, of the 50, 60 sources I have, 40 are football sources. And last night I had the great fortune-- I'm not going to tell you who it is, what time it is-- I had a GM. I had dinner with a general manager in the National Football League. Third such dinner this predraft.

And I'm just asking questions, questions, questions, questions, questions. And I saw this story come out today that the Patriots, who made that trade, Brandin Cooks, the headlines are all saying this morning, now the Patriots can go get a quarterback with one of their four picks in the first two rounds. I am here to tell you the Patriots do not have their draft board made up yet. Because as I asked the GM who I had dinner with last night about his draft board, and he said, Collin, nobody, not even Cleveland, has everything finalized yet.

He goes, fans think all we do is the draft. It's 30% of our job. Fans think we have the draft all laid out. No team right now has all their picks figured out. They're still doing work with scouts, regional scouts, national scouts.

So the headlines are, Patriots now going to get a quarterback. That cannot be confirmed. But what I'm about to tell you can be confirmed. And much like LeBron, I believe, this is my theory, Bill Belichick is sending a message.

Now we all know Belichick-- this has been published now-- was furious when Bob Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, made him trade Garoppolo. Everybody downplayed it. Multiple published reports from even those inside and around the Patriot team as beat reporters, it ticked Belichick off. And Kraft sided with Tom Brady. Look at Tom's numbers, Bill. Tom has won the Super Bowls. Look at the Super Bowl against Atlanta. He's still amazing.

So here's what New England has done. I am supposed to believe this is a coincidence, but in the last four to five months when Brady and Belichick have now a published and well documented fracturing issue-- festering, fracturing issue. Belichick has let Tom's number one running back go, Dion Lewis. His number one deep threat yesterday is now a Ram, Brandin Cooks. His backside protector, Nate Solder is now gone. Cameron Fleming, who was the starting right tackle at the end of the year, gone. And because Julian Edelman was out, who was his number one playoff receiver last year? Danny Amendola. They let him go.

Five key offensive players have all been allowed to walk out the door. So that means Tom Brady goes into this year, at 40, with his two best offensive pieces, 32-year-old Julian Edelman, off in ACL surgery, and the not physically reliable Gronk.

If one of them gets hurt Tom Brady has never had a football team where he will have to pull it more than this year. Sacked more, pressured more, less home runs on a deep ball, less of a running game. What does it mean? Colin, what are you saying?

I'm supposed to believe that it is a coincidence that his best running back, his left tackle, his best slot receiver, his best deep threat, his right tackle, bu-bye. Gosh, I wish we could have keeped them. Wish we could have kept you. Wish we could keep you.

You know what that is? In one year Brady's numbers are going down, and Belichick is going to go to Bob Kraft and say, we're finally seeing his age. Because Tom's been fooling us with age. Unless you really go into the numbers, comes back against Atlanta. Last year you look at his numbers, there's no erosion. But if you go inside them like Belichick does with data, there is proof that in November, December, January, Tom is coming down, down, down.

Five valuable resources, out. And you know what that GM told me last night about the NFL draft? Well, what do you know? It's a great draft, he said, but it's the worst wide receiver draft in years. There is no help now that Brandin Cooks is gone, now that Danny Amendola is gone. You're not getting it in this class.