Updated 3/26/19 11:20 AM: Ian Rapoport reports that Cooks contract with the Saints is for 2 years $15.5 million with $8 million fully guaranteed in year one. Saints found a great way to pay Cook not only based on last year’s production but with the projection of his time in New Orleans as he becomes a potentially essential bridge piece between Brees and (hopefully) Bridgewater. Can also mentor a young TE into their third year if drafted in 2019.
Update 3/26/19 10:55 AM: Jared Cook is expected to receive up to a guarunteed $8 million in year one according to Ian Rapoport who discussed Cook’s contract on the Around the NFL podcast. During the NFL Annual Meeting after discussing the rule change proposals, Coach Sean Payton made it clear that he’s excited to work with Cook and that his understanding is that the contract has been signed. The official Saints Twitter then released the following tweet:
The Saints continue their stellar offseason by finally finalizing a deal with former Raiders and Packers TE Jared Cook. The 6’5” 254 pound pass-catcher had a career year last season in Oakland catching 68 catches on 100 targets for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns. After what felt like ages and ages of silence on the Jared Cook front, no visits, no news, no updates, the Saints close the deal on Wednesday.
He’s been a career pass-catcher at the Tight End position since 2010/2011 in Tennessee.
There are some common concerns about Cook due to his age. The former USC Gamecock turns 32 April 7th. However, the Saints have made good on veteran tight ends in the past. They gave Ben Watson the best year of his career in 2015 at the age of 35 and brought him back for another go two years later at 37. They also made good on three of Jeremy Shockey’s last four years winning a Super Bowl with him in 2009.
Cook brings more than just his pass-catching ability to the Saints as he’s always been an outstanding and willing blocker as well. However, it doesn’t hurt that he’s averaged 12.9 yards per catch for his entire career and over 35 yards per game the last three seasons. Josh Hill, the previously presumed in-house TE1 has never reached those numbers any single season of his career and hasn’t even sniffed a 20 yard per game average.
There’s no doubt that Cook is a major upgrade for the Saints at the Tight End position. Especially considering he alone had over 150 yards more last season (896) than the three top Saints Tight Ends did combined (740). It will be a great sight to watch Drew Brees work with a big-framed receiver with Cook’s skill set at the position again. It’s looking like this will be the best TE option he’s had since Jimmy Graham was traded in 2015.
Shoutout to Bryan Bienemy for calling the 48-hour timeframe.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC