Confirmed by multiple sources after an initial report by Dianna Russini of E.S.P.N. on Wednesday night, the New Orleans Saints are about to(Finally!) sign tight end Jared Cook to a lucrative deal. Cook, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, was the most productive tight end available in this year's free agent class. He visited the Saints last Friday after meeting with the New England Patriots, finally reaching an agreement in principle with New Orleans late on Wednesday after considering other offers.
Cook entered the league as a 3rd round pick from South Carolina by the Tennessee Titans in the 2009 draft. He caught 131 passes for 1,717 yards and 8 touchdowns in four seasons with the Titans. His best year with Tennessee was in 2011, catching 49 passes for 759 yards and three scores. He signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent in 2013, where he had 142 receptions for 1,786 yards and 8 touchdowns in three seasons with the Rams. Cook then signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 2016, but remained there just one season, catching 30 passes for 377 yards and one score. He joined the Oakland Raiders in 2017, and caught 54 passes for 688 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the team. Cook had a career year in 2018 despite an anemic Raiders offense, catching 68 balls for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns, all team highs.
The 6'5 254-lb. Cook, who will turn 32 years old this spring, is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL. He has developed into a solid route runner over the course of his career, breaking smoothly out of breaks to create separation. Cook is a mismatch against most linebackers with his athleticism, and many defensive backs due to his size. He gives the New Orleans offense a playmaking presence at a position that's lacked production. Saints tight ends Ben Watson, Josh Hill, and Dan Arnold combined for 63 receptions, 735 yards, and six scores in 2018, numbers that Cook surpassed by himself. They were already thin at the position, after the retirement of Benjamin Watson, and now gets a major upgrade. Cook is expected to threaten defenses down the seam, giving quarterback Drew Brees another receiving weapon to go along with stars Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, veteran Ted Ginn Jr., along with the expected development of wideouts Tre'Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood. Tight end was considered the biggest weakness on a championship caliber roster, and now gets filled with one of the better receiving tight ends in the league.