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New England Patriots trading Brandin Cooks to Los Angeles Rams



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have traded receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft.

As part of the deal, which was officially announced by the Rams on Tuesday night, New England also sent a fourth-round pick (No. 136 overall) to Los Angeles and received a sixth-round pick (No. 198 overall) from the Rams.

The deal helps both teams in different ways.

The Rams — who had explored a trade for Odell Beckham Jr. but liked the Cooks option better — were seeking a vertical threat for second-year coach Sean McVay’s dynamic offense after Sammy Watkins joined the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.

The speedy Cooks, who totaled 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns for the Patriots last season, fills that void alongside Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Cooks had 16 receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield last season, tied with DeAndre Hopkins for most in the NFL.

Cooks had made a strong impression on many in New England after the team acquired him last offseason from the New Orleans Saints for a package that included the Patriots’ first-round pick (No. 32 overall), but he was entering the final year of his contract (due to earn $8.459 million) at a time when salaries for top pass-catchers have skyrocketed.

In choosing to trade Cooks, the Patriots were likely weighing their chances of re-signing him in 2019 while also working to accumulate assets at a time when quarterback Tom Brady turns 41 in August and tight end Rob Gronkowski appears to be on a year-to-year plan in terms of how much longer he will play.

The Patriots, who hope to sustain success as some of their star players enter the final stages of their careers, now have two first-round picks (No. 23, 31) and two second-rounders (No. 43, 63), along with a third-rounder (95), two sixth-rounders and a seventh-rounder this year.

As for their wide receiver depth chart, it is still well stocked with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister, although the club will miss Cooks’ blazing speed and durability, as he played 92.7 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season and coach Bill Belichick said he never missed a practice.

Cooks had 10 catches for 155 yards in the postseason before being knocked out of the team’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a concussion in the second quarter.

The 24-year-old Cooks, who entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice of the Saints in 2014, is the latest star acquisition for the Rams this offseason. They previously traded for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, then signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, whom they will introduce to the media Wednesday.

Several current Rams players took to Twitter to cheer the move.

The Rams will be without a first-round pick for the second consecutive year. They were hoping to use this year’s pick to help address drastic needs at linebacker.

The 23rd overall pick will be the Patriots’ highest in the draft since 2012, when they selected Chandler Jones 21st overall. In addition, they now have two first-round picks in the same draft for the third time under Belichick. In 2012, they selected Jones and Dont’a Hightower. In 2004, they took Vince Wilfork and Benjamin Watson. Rams reporter Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Rams’ Joe Noteboom to injured reserve; David Edwards to start at left guard



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams have placed left guard Joe Noteboom on injured reserve and have promoted linebacker Natrez Patrick from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, the team announced Thursday.

Noteboom suffered a calf strain in the second half of a Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles and will miss a minimum of three games on injured reserve.

Offensive lineman David Edwards will start in Noteboom’s absence.

“You hate to lose Joe, never want to see that happen,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “But because of David Edwards’ approach, his willingness to just continue to get better, the amount of experience he got last year, I think is invaluable for us.”

A second-year pro, Edwards started 10 games last season after Noteboom tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in Week 6 and underwent season-ending surgery.

Patrick played mostly on special teams in 12 games last season.

The Rams are 2-0 and play the 2-0 Bills in Buffalo on Sunday.

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Florida prosecutors drop charge against Patriots owner Robert Kraft after court bars massage parlor sex video



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Thursday, saying they couldn’t go forward after courts blocked their use of video that allegedly shows him paying for massage parlor sex.

Palm Beach County court records show that the charge was dropped Thursday. Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg will explain the decision during an online news conference later Thursday.

The Florida 4th District Court of Appeal found last month that Jupiter police violated the rights of Kraft and others when they secretly installed video cameras inside massage rooms at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in early 2019. The court then blocked use of the video footage at trial.

The recordings, which have not been made public, are the only known evidence the men paid for sex.

Prosecutors decided this week not to appeal that decision to the Florida Supreme Court, saying a loss there could have “broader, negative implications” on future law enforcement investigations beyond the Kraft case.

Kraft’s attorneys have already filed a motion asking that the recordings be destroyed so they could never be released to the public. They said Kraft might be willing to pay the state’s costs if anyone challenges a destruction order.

Kraft, 79, could still face suspension or other punishment from the National Football League.

He and the others were charged in February 2019 in a multicounty investigation of massage parlors that included the secret installation of video cameras in the spas’ lobbies and rooms. Police say the recordings show Kraft and other men engaging in sex acts with women and paying them.

Police say they recorded Kraft paying for sex acts at the Orchids of Asia spa on consecutive days in January 2019. Kraft, a widower, pleaded not guilty but issued a public apology for his actions.

A county court judge originally threw out the recordings, saying the warrant allowing the cameras’ installation didn’t sufficiently protect the privacy of innocent customers who received legal massages. The 4th District agreed, ruling that planting video cameras in private spaces is an “extreme” measure that should only be used when absolutely necessary.

“To permit otherwise would yield unbridled discretion to agents of law enforcement and the government, the antithesis of the constitutional liberty of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the court ruled.

Prosecutors argued that they needed the recordings to convict the Orchids of Asia owners of felonies, including possible human trafficking — though no one was charged with that crime. The owners must be shown receiving payments from the prostitutes and the only way to get that is to install cameras, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Kraft would have likely received a fine, community service and other sanctions that did not include jail time.

According to Forbes, Kraft is worth almost $7 billion. He employed several high-priced attorneys to defend him in the case.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Atlanta Falcons’ Hayden Hurst to team up for suicide prevention



FRISCO, Texas — Starting next offseason, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst are planning to work together in suicide prevention.

Hurst approached Prescott after the Cowboys’ 40-39 win Sunday in a moment that was caught on camera.

Hurst has been open about attempting suicide and dealing with anxiety and depression. Prescott’s brother, Jace, died by suicide in April and the quarterback discussed feeling depressed during the early parts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Such a moment. Obviously excited after a big win like that but for him to just come over there, us embrace that moment,” Prescott said of the discussion with Hurst. “He was telling me about what him and his mom are doing with their foundation. I’m excited to work with him. We’ve talked since. Excited in the offseason for us to get something going. Our teams have already started making steps to do that while we’re in the midst of the season.”

After the game, Hurst embraced Prescott and said, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did, came out and talked about. Me and my mom have a foundation about suicide prevention. Respect the hell out of you for talking about it, man.”

Prescott said a couple of Los Angeles Rams approached him after the Week 1 game regarding his comments, so he was not surprised another player talked with him about it.

“I mean obviously that’s something that’s near and dear to his heart. That means a lot to him. So couple of players did it last week. So I think it just depends on that player, what it means to them, what they’ve been through personally,” Prescott said. “And I’m proud of Hayden for where he’s come from, the things that he’s been through, thankful obviously for that moment as well.”

Hurst established the Hayden Hurst Foundation with his mother, Cathy, to raise awareness of mental health issues in children and adolescents by funding mental health services and programs through donations and fundraising events. Prescott’s Faith Fight Finish foundation is focused on the fight against cancer after the quarterback’s mother, Peggy, died from colon cancer, but it also invests in the future of youths fighting through adversity.

On Wednesday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked about Prescott, saying he was impressed by his ability to open up about his mental health.

“I applaud him. I think it’s phenomenal, speaking out, because that’s true courage and that’s true strength,” Rodgers said. “It’s not a weakness at all.”

Prescott said he had seen the comments.

“I appreciate those and I respect Aaron. Respect Aaron as much as probably any other quarterback we have in this league. Obviously his game but for him to just come out say what he said and loved what he said about people’s personal things don’t affect any of us, how we feel about ourselves. I think that that’s huge. It’s about what you, with self talks and the stuff you see in your own mind. I thank Aaron for having my support and coming out and speaking as he did.”

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.

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