Look, I don't know what to believe. There have been about two dozen Brandin Cooks trades rumored throughout the last five days. Some were likely legitimate, some were likely just posturing, and most were likely completely fabricated by random, biased fans on the internet that either overvalued or undervalued Cooks depending on the rooting interest of the "source". I don't know what category a Brandin Cooks for Malcolm Butler swap falls under, but I will say that it makes a hell of a lot of sense. Obviously both players are proven assets that are either due or soon to be due the money that they both clearly deserve, but that's not even the reason I think this deal could actually be in play.
You see, the annual intrasquad scrimmages between the Saints and Patriots have basically just devolved into a platform for Sean Payton and Bill Belichick to stroke the egos of the opposing players rumored so the consummation of this deal weirdly feels like a long time coming. That wouldn't be the case because both players have merely three NFL seasons under their belt, but the way the matchup has been fawned over year-after-year leads me to believe that both parties have had the eyes for each other's "significant other" prior to this morning. Normally I would be skeptical of New England moving a quality player in order to improve an offense that has turned LAX bros into playoff heroes, but I normally don't hear Bill Belichick crush on players the way he has Brandin Cooks the last few training camps.
That doesn't mean I feel optimistic about Mickey Loomis coming away with the winning hand when he sits down at the bargaining table with a man who historically plays his cards to perfection, but it does mean that I understand the thought process behind it. The Patriots find ways to make their defensive players look better than they actually are and the Saints, well, do the exact fucking opposite. That said - given their hard fought battles over the years - it's tough to argue that Malcolm Butler isn't the slightly older equivalent of Brandin Cooks. They are system players in the sense that they are aided by having been in great situations, but they have both consistently flashed their skill set and shown the propensity for using their talent to make game breaking (or Super Bowl winning) plays.
Bottomline is that New Orleans needs a reliable cornerback that wants to prove that description is an insult far more than they need a speedy wide receiver that was clearly unhappy playing second fiddle to a rookie. It appears that Brandin Cooks is on his way out the door regardless, and I'm not sure the Saints can do better than keeping that door open for someone that would instantly improve a position of weakness. The worst case scenario is that Malcolm Butler struggles mighty without the expert scheming of Bill Belichick, but hey - that just means that he would fit right in with a defense that has always needed more playmakers to keep up with an offense that has repeatedly shown that they are disposable.