Jared Cook

Saints Rule Out Alvin Kamara For Week 7

Alvin Kamara‘s ankle and knee injuries will prevent him from suiting up in Week 7. The Saints have ruled out their standout running back, per Katherine Terrell of The Athletic (on Twitter).

The third-year back did not practice this week. Kamara was questionable for Week 6 with an ankle ailment but played. This latest issue, believed to be a high ankle-type problem, will sideline him. This means Latavius Murray will start against the Bears. The Saints will also be without Jared Cook, who is also dealing with an ankle malady.

Kamara has already amassed 649 scrimmage yards. The third-year Saint is ahead of his pace from his first two dynamic seasons. A free agent addition to replace Mark Ingram, Murray has 205 yards from scrimmage. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per tote for the 5-1 Saints, who are seeking their fifth straight win without Drew Brees.

The other key free agent the Saints added to their skill-position corps this offseason, Cook will miss his first game since the 2016 season. The 32-year-old tight end is behind the pace he set with the Raiders last season. Through six games, Cook has recorded 15 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Longtime Saint Josh Hill and journeyman Brian Parker are the other tight ends on New Orleans’ roster.

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Raiders Did Not Make Offer To Jared Cook

The Saints won the Jared Cook pursuit, with the Patriots being their top challenger. Jon Gruden said in January the Raiders would be in on this bid to bring Cook back, but they look to have bowed out early.

Cook never received an offer from the Raiders, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required), and the team stopped returning calls from the tight end’s agent.

After trading Amari Cooper, the Raiders relied heavily on Cook last season. He finished with 896 receiving yards, far and away a career-high total and the most a non-Todd Christensen Raiders tight end has ever recorded. Cook, 32 next week, now joins the Saints, who needed some help to provide a supporting cast for Michael Thomas.

Gruden on Tuesday called it “sickening” the Raiders could not keep Cook, but Tafur indicates they were not all that serious about doing so. He had also indicated in November a desire to retain the well-traveled tight end. Cook signed for two years and $15.5MM (with $8MM fully guaranteed). The Raiders landed Cook for barely $5MM per year in 2017.

The Raiders will give Darren Waller a chance to succeed Cook, per Gruden. He of multiple suspensions, Waller caught six passes for 75 yards with the Raiders last season. It appears likely the Raiders, who also have Derek Carrier on their roster, will draft a tight end.

Saints To Sign Jared Cook

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 HillGarrett 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 JamesTyler 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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Jared Cook Remains Committed To Saints

Rob Gronkowski is retiredwe think – and that leaves the Patriots with a serious void at tight end. Some have speculated that the Patriots could convince Jared Cook to back out of his not-yet-signed commitment to the Saints, but that won’t happen, according to Peter King of NBC Sports

Cook will not reconsider his decision, according to King. That’s disappointing news for the Pats’ front office, especially since they aggressively pursued the former Raiders tight end.

Cook would not have been a true “replacement” for Gronkowski, but he would have given the Patriots a quality pass-catcher to keep the offense moving. Last year, the 31-year-old started 14 of his 16 games, hauling in 68 receptions for 896 yards and six scores. It was the most productive season of Cook’s career, though he has topped 50 catches in three other seasons.

Instead, Cook intends to still sign with the Saints, where he has an opportunity to fill a role similar to the one occupied by Jimmy Graham years ago. Drew Brees tends to spread the ball around in the New Orleans offense, but Cook could be an opportunity to assert himself as one of the very best tight ends in the NFL, especially now that Gronk is focusing on non-football endeavors.

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Patriots “Aggressively Courted” Jared Cook

Veteran tight end Jared Cook has agreed to sign with the Saints, and we had heard that the Patriots were monitoring his market prior to that decision. However, it seems as though New England’s interest went beyond the monitoring stage.

Per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, a source close to Cook said the Pats aggressively courted the soon-to-be 32-year-old, who chose New Orleans instead because of the uncertain status of Rob Gronkowski. Gronk has still not committed to playing in 2019, but he may be leaning in that direction, so the Saints offer a clearer path to the top of the tight end depth chart.

The Patriots’ pursuit of Cook does not necessarily mean that they believe Gronkowski will choose to retire. If Gronk retires, Cook certainly would have been a worthy replacement, but if Gronkowski comes back, he and Cook could have teamed up to create a formidable tight end tandem (a la Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez).

Indeed, New England is in need of receiving help any way it can get it. The club made a push to sign free agent wideout Adam Humphries, and it was also in on Cole Beasley. Humphries and Beasley ended up signing with the Titans and Bills, respectively, outfits that do not profile as legitimate championship contenders in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have made a series of more low-key transactions, adding wideouts Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington and re-signing Phillip Dorsett. Those deals could end up paying dividends, and it is never wise to discount New England’s offense, but the team would probably be feeling a bit better if Cook were in the fold.

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Extra Points: WRs, Steelers, Edwards, Cook

Some assorted notes from around the NFL:

  • The Saints, Seahawks, and Patriots are continuing to monitor the wide receiver market, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Golden Tate is the best receiver still unsigned, but there are a number of other notable names available. New Orleans is reportedly interested in bringing back Dez Bryant, and veterans like Michael Crabtree and Randall Cobb still have some value.
  • The Steelers are working to re-sign linebacker L.J. Fort, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Fort was primarily deployed on passing downs in 2018 and was an underrated part of Pittsburgh’s defense last season, racking up 48 tackles and a sack. Fowler notes that Fort has generated interest from other clubs.
  • Defensive lineman Mario Edwards is set to visit with the Saints tonight, tweets Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. The 25-year-old was claimed off waivers by the Giants in September after having spent the first three seasons of his career with the Raiders. The former second-rounder proceeded to play in 15 games for the Giants, compiling 14 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble.
  • The Raiders continue to monitor free agent tight end Jared Cook, writes Scott Bair of NBCSports Bay Area. The writer cautions that it’s “hard to imagine” the veteran returning, as he’s visited with the Saints and received interest from the Patriots. The 31-year-old started 14 of his 16 games last season, hauling in 68 receptions for 896 yards and six scores.
  • Trent Brown isn’t all that concerned about his role with the Raiders, tweets Bair. After playing left tackle for the Patriots in 2018, Brown said he’d be receptive to a switch to right tackle. As of right now, Kolton Miller is expected to start on the opposite side of the offensive line.

Saints To Host Jared Cook

The Saints plan to meet with free agent tight end Jared Cook on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Meanwhile, both the Patriots and the incumbent Raiders are monitoring Cook’s market, tweets Vic Tafur of The Athletic.

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 if he lands in New Orleans.

A number of free agent tight ends — Jesse James, Tyler Kroft, and Nick Boyle among them — have received multi-year deals worth $6-7MM, and Cook should be able to top those figures. Heading into free agency, he was widely viewed as the top tight end available on the open market.

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Raiders Rumors: Martin, Cook, Trgovac

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • The Raiders say they want to hold onto Marshawn Lynch, but they are also still intent on keeping pending free agent Doug Martin, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Martin finished out the year with 723 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and a yards per carry average of 4.2, his best showing since 2015. In late November, Jon Gruden was adamant about re-signing Martin, so it’s little surprise to hear that he remains in the team’s plans.
  • Gruden also said the Raiders will work hard to re-sign tight end Jared Cook, Tafur writes. “I had a good meeting with Jared before he left,” Gruden said. “And we’ll do the best we can to get him back. It will be competitive. I’m sure there are a lot of teams who look at the tape and put him on their wish list.” Cook was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after he hauled in a career-high 68 catches for 896 yards and six TDs.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner has taken the same job with the Raiders, but former DL coach Mike Trgovac is still in the team’s plans. Gruden says he’ll remain with the club in an advisory role.

Raiders Want To Re-Sign TE Jared Cook

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden expressed his desire to re-sign tight end Jared Cook, who is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2018 season, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Whoever the GM is, we’ll show him some tape and show him how important Jared is,” said Gruden.

As Tafur notes, no matter whom the Raiders select to replace the recently-fired Reggie McKenzie, Gruden figures to retain either de facto or outright control of the club’s personnel. Therefore, if Gruden is highly interested in retaining Cook for 2019 and beyond, it stands to reason Oakland will be competitive with an offer to the veteran tight end.

Cook, 31, is in the midst of the best season of his NFL career, leading the Raiders in receptions (61), receiving yardage (825), and receiving touchdowns (6). Cook ranks as a top-five tight end league-wide in all three of those categories, while Pro Football Focus grades him fourth at his position. Additionally, Cook is third among NFL tight ends in Football Outsiders’ DYAR — which measures value over a replacement level player — and fourth in DVOA, which quantifies value on a per-play basis.

Despite his age, Cook should easily garner the most significant free agent tight end contract next spring. Other available options at the position are uninspiring at first glance, as free agents will include C.J. Uzomah, Jeff Heuerman, Josh Hill, Geoff Swaim, and Jesse James, among others.

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West Notes: Mack, Perryman, Rams

We heard last week that the Raiders and star linebacker Khalil Mack are not close on an extension, and Mack has not yet reported to the team’s offseason workout program. GM Reggie McKenzie, though, remains confident that a new deal will get done, and there does not seem to be any reason to believe otherwise at this point. Scott Bair of NBCSports.com takes a crack at the value of Mack’s next contract, and he suggests that a six-year, $120MM pact (with around $65MM in guarantees) could be in play. He also says the team is unconcerned about Mack’s absence at this point, though the Raiders do want to get a deal in place before training camp.

Now let’s round up a few notes from west division clubs, starting with more out of Oakland:

  • Jared Cook has been mentioned as a potential cap casualty this offseason given that he is owed a $5MM salary and can be cut without any dead money remaining on the books. But Bair does not believe the Raiders will part ways with Cook, though that could change if the team selects a tight end in the early rounds of this month’s draft.
  • The Chargers‘ run defense was the weakest part of an otherwise strong unit in 2017, and with only Denzel Perryman locked in as a starter at linebacker for 2018, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times believes the Bolts could make a play for an LB early on in the draft. If the team does not trade up to select a talent like Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith, Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch should be available when the Chargers are on the clock with the No. 17 overall pick. As Woike notes, the team also needs to decide what it wants to do with Perryman on a long-term basis, as the Miami product is entering the last year of his rookie deal.
  • In a separate piece, Woike suggests that the Chargers could look to bolster their run defense by selecting a defensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft, with Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne being tied to the team in various mocks. Los Angeles has stayed out of the free agent market for linebackers and defensive lineman thus far, and Woike notes that Jay Bromley could be a name to watch if the team cannot fill its DL needs in the draft.
  • One team that decidedly does not need to draft a defensive lineman is the Rams, although Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times said the team could still be on the lookout for DL depth in the later rounds of the draft. Klein notes in a separate piece that the Rams — who will not be on the clock until the third round — do need to address their LB corps. The team has three fourth-round selections and four sixth-round picks, and Klein says Los Angeles will be on the lookout for LBs, especially edge rushers.