In a very thin tight end free agency market, veteran Jared Cook could be in line for a good payday after a strong 2018 season with the Oakland Raiders.
Throughout his career, Jared Cook has been a bit of an enigma, flashing a ton of talent but not necessarily delivering the equivalent amount of production. That changed in Oakland, where Cook was very productive for the Raiders over the past two years.
Cook was Oakland’s most prolific pass-catcher in 2018, leading the team in receptions (68), yards (896), and touchdowns (six). While the Raiders could certainly afford to retain Cook, they could get outbid by teams with a need at the position that view him as a final piece to make them a contender.
The free agent market for tight ends is very thin, with only Jesse James and the injury-prone Tyler Eifert sticking out as potential starters. Cook is head and shoulders above that group in terms of production.
With that in mind, here are our five top fits for Cook in free agency.
5. Oakland Raiders
This one is obvious. Cook was the only dependable pass catcher for Derek Carr in 2018 with Jordy Nelson battling injuries. The drop off from Cook to backup Lee Smith, who caught 10 passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns, is drastic.
The Raiders are going to want to remain relevant as they prepare for their move to Las Vegas in 2020, and losing their top receiving option is counterproductive. Cook has clearly proven he has a connection with Carr, and it is worth maintaining if Carr is going to be Oakland’s quarterback going forward.
The only reason the Raiders are fifth on the list of Cook’s best fits is that it is hard to determine in what direction the franchise actually wants to head. Head coach Jon Gruden started to blow up the roster last season, trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper for draft picks while releasing Bruce Irvin outright.
If Oakland decides to try and get younger, the 31-year-old Cook may not be a good fit for the team’s long-term plans. With three first-round picks — including two in the 20’s — and a high second-rounder the Raiders could draft one of the top young tight ends if they so choose.