FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Brandin Cooks, Patriot for life. That has a nice ring to it.

It isn’t just an empty thought as the super-fast wide receiver blazes through a successful first season with the New England Patriots. In fact, Cooks remarked this week it is “absolutely” his goal to play the rest of his career with the Patriots.

The 24-year-old loves New England.

“It just matches my personality,” Cooks said. “The way things are structured, the way they go about their business, it’s just a great place. Obviously, it’s not an easy place to play, but nothing good in life comes easy.”

That final sentiment is significant. Successful Patriots – young, old or in between – have always embraced the challenge of fulfilling Bill Belichick’s grueling expectations. That’s the hallmark of the team’s consistency for nearly two decades, the reason why it doesn’t slump for a month or miss the playoffs. Those who don’t enjoy the culture quickly find themselves working elsewhere or nowhere at all.

Cooks, who was acquired from the Saints in March for first- and third-round draft picks, is signed through 2018, when he will earn $8.459 million that will become fully guaranteed in March. To finish his career with the Patriots, it would obviously require a contract extension and maybe even another one after that.

Cooks stressed he wasn’t going to publicly entertain the contract topic, though.

“I’m not thinking about it, not even thinking about that,” he said.

Behind the scenes, the Patriots seem to uniformly love Cooks, including quarterback Tom Brady, so it’s safe to assume the desire for a long-term union is mutual. But to be fair, wanting to stay together and working to stay together can sometimes be entirely different things at the negotiating table.

It’s far too early to predict whether Cooks and the Patriots will strike an agreement. Based on the Patriots’ history of business dealings, they’ll talk numbers with Cooks and his agency after the season at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, and the team can be expected to make at least one offer before training camp in July 2018.

On the other side, Cooks is playing out his rookie contract, so it’s impossible to predict his strategy throughout the negotiating process. His agency, Rep 1 Sports Group, has a reputation for dealings with big-time players, so these won’t be junior varsity negotiations.

Perhaps in the Patriots’ favor, Rep 1 works for special teams captain Matthew Slater and has kept players like Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers and Joe Staley with the 49ers. They’re used to dealing with the Patriots and are willing to work with their players’ teams, rather than pushing them all the way into free agency.

More than anything, the money will matter. If Cooks plays out his contract, he’ll be 25 years old as a free agent in March 2019, so he’ll still be short of his prime.

Cooks’ closest comparison might be Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, who signed a five-year, $65 million extension ($11 million fully guaranteed) in 2015 when he was 25. Hilton was coming off a season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns, and the Colts had just raised a banner for reaching the AFC Championship Game.

This season, Cooks looks better by the week, on pace for 72 receptions, 1,257 yards and six touchdowns. Assuming he’ll progress in 2018, Cooks could post a nearly identical season to Hilton’s 2014.

The salary cap might be the biggest difference in the Cooks-Hilton parallel. The 2015 cap was $143 million, but it could be $187 million in 2019. At that point, if Hilton was worth $13 million in average annual value in 2015, would Cooks demand upward of $15 million annually in 2019?

Cooks could probably corral that much on the open market, but remember, his goal is to remain with the Patriots. And if he hasn’t already let his mind wander to his future contract negotiations, eventually he’ll recognize New England won’t pay top-market dollar for anyone, although they recently made an exception with cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s five-year, $65 million deal.

Who knows if Bill Belichick would be willing to fork over the same money to Cooks, and those are fair-market numbers for a receiving weapon on the rise who fit in from Day 1, which was also about the time he recognized his aspirations to remain with the Patriots for the long haul.

“Yeah, it’s pretty much been that feeling since I got in here,” Cooks said. “Just the respect that I have for Coach (Belichick), the Kraft family and the players around here, it’s huge.”