The New Orleans Saints have had a busy offseason. They’ve extended Wil Lutz, re-signed Teddy Bridgewater, and quelled rumors of Sean Payton heading to Dallas. They’ve also signed a trio of former Minnesota Vikings in Marcus Sherels, Latavius Murray, and Nick Easton. They’ve signed two new defensive linemen in Malcom Brown and Mario Edwards Jr. On top of that, they’ve bolstered the tight end position by signing Pro Bowler Jared Cook.
What that in mind, it should come as little surprise that Jared Cook was named the Saints biggest offseason signing by Bleacher Report.
The New Orleans Saints replaced retired center Max Unger with the more-than-capable and somewhat promising Nick Easton, which is a nice move but doesn’t rock the boat in an exciting way. Ditto for the addition of defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who has yet to live up to his potential and might have a limited impact if Sheldon Rankins gets healthy and David Onyemata can continue to flourish.
But then there’s tight end Jared Cook, who somehow lingered on the open market before landing with New Orleans, where he could immediately become a prime target for 40-year-old Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Cook has limited long-term upside as a 10-year veteran who is now 32, which might explain why he wasn’t in high demand as a free agent. Still, he’s perfect for a team that is in win-now mode and needed help at the tight end position.
Dude is somewhat quietly coming off an 896-yard Pro Bowl season in which he caught a career-high 67.3 percent of the passes thrown his way, and his rate-based stats could be even better with the super-efficient Brees throwing the passes in 2019.
We’ve seen what the accuracy of Drew Brees can do for a player’s catch rate. Ted Ginn Jr. had six straight seasons of a sub-60% catch rate between the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. In Ginn’s first year in New Orleans, Ginn posted a career high 75.7%, his first year above 60% since 2008 with the Dolphins when he posted a catch rate of 60.2%.
Now Jared Cook, coming off a career high 67.3%, has a chance to play in New Orleans with Drew Brees, the most accurate passer in the history of the NFL. This should lead to a welcome boost to Cook’s catch percentage, something his previous quarterbacks like Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Case Keenum, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck, Rusty Smith, Kerry Collins and Vince Young couldn’t do. (Yes, those are really Cook’s former quarterbacks.)