The Saints are close to a deal with free agent tight end Jared Cook, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). When the deal is inked on Tuesday, it’ll be a two-year contract worth $15.5MM, including $8MM fully guaranteed in Year 1, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). With incentives, Cook can earn up to $19MM between now and the end of the 2020 season.
Cook, 31, just wrapped up the best season of his NFL career, leading the Raiders in receptions (68), receiving yardage (896), and receiving touchdowns (6). Cook ranked as a top-five tight end league-wide in all three of those categories, while Pro Football Focus grades him ninth at his position. Additionally, Cook finished fifth among NFL tight ends in Football Outsiders’ DYAR — which measures value over a replacement level player — and 11th in DVOA, which quantifies value on a per-play basis.
The Saints are losing Ben Watson to retirement, but still have Josh Hill, Garrett Griffin, and Dan Arnold at tight end. Cook, clearly, would represent an upgrade over any of those options, and would project to see the majority of snaps and targets at the position in New Orleans.
A number of free agent tight ends — Jesse James, Tyler Kroft, and Nick Boyle among them — received multi-year deals worth $6-7MM annually, and Cook managed to top figures. Heading into free agency, he was widely viewed as the top tight end available on the open market.
New Orleans originally hosted Cook when the free agent market opened last Wednesday. At the time, both the incumbent Raiders and the Patriots were believed to be “monitoring” Cook’s market. There was some speculation that the Patriots would circle back to Cook in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, but Cook kept his word and remained committed to the Saints.
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