Jared Cook

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

North Notes: Packers, Williams, Bengals

The Packers made a rare foray into the non-street free agent portion of the offseason waters by signing Martellus Bennett. That move figures to pay off, in the eyes of some anonymous NFL personnel men.

Bennett is way better than Jared Cook,” one personnel director said, via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an expansive piece. “And he’s smarter. And he’s not as selfish. He’s going to be loud, but you’ve got to live with that.”

Chiming in on this debate, a scout told McGinn: “Cook is faster straight-line, yes, but their body type is totally different. When you walk up on Bennett, that is a man. Cook can’t block you or me. Bennett can. He can seal an edge.”

While these evaluators said the deal for Bennett comes with risk because of the pass-catcher’s age (30) and recent injury struggles. Bennett injured an ankle last season and reinjured it to the point he might require offseason surgery. One GM also mentioned 12 tight ends he would rather have than Bennett next season — a list that included Jack Doyle, Jermaine Gresham and Kyle Rudolph — but the same GM told McGinn he would only take two of those tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Rudolph) over Bennett as a blocker.

Here’s more from the Norths as free agency nears its third week.

  • Lance Kendricks‘ two-year Packers accord will be worth $4MM, with $1.2MM guaranteed, per McGinn. This could prove to be a value-re-establishing pact for Kendricks, who saw the Rams get out of a four-year, $18.5MM deal by cutting him.
  • Brandon Williams received interest from beyond Baltimore, but the Ravens succeeded on a persistent push to retain him. The fifth-year nose tackle wasn’t keen on being the latest impact Ravens UFA defection. “I wanted to come back. I tried to kind of leave hints,” Williams said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Ravens signed their former Division II find to a five-year, $52.5MM deal. That pact includes a $12.5MM signing bonus. The Bills’ decision to revert back to a 4-3 look will make Williams the league’s highest-paid nose tackle by a wide margin.
  • Despite Kevin Minter pledging to come to Cincinnati for the 2017 season, Reuben Foster remains an option for the Bengals with their No. 9 overall pick, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Minter signed a one-year deal, and Foster — if taken at No. 9 overall — would be under team control for five. Plus, Minter has positional versatility that would allow him to play alongside the Alabama middle linebacker.
  • Ricky Jean-Francois left his Bears visit without a contract, and the UFA defensive lineman will make his way to Seattle for a scheduled Seahawks summit, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Anderson added

Contract Details: Taylor, Cook, Willson

The latest contract details from around the NFL:

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB (Bills): Taylor earns an additional $500K if the Bills make it to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2017, which becomes $1MM if they advance to the AFC Championship, and $2MM if they advance to the Super Bowl. The same package of incentives applies to 2018 (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).
  • Jared Cook, TE (Raiders): Two years, $10.6MM, $1.6MM in incentives (effectively a one-year $5.3MM deal with $800K in incentives) (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe).
  • Luke Willson, TE (Seahawks): One year, $1.8MM, $1MM in incentives (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Kayvon Webster, CB (Rams): Two years, $7.75MM. Salaries of $2.75MM (guaranteed), $3MM. $1MM 2017 roster bonus guaranteed, $500K 2018 roster bonus guaranteed. (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Sean Spence, LB (Colts): One year, $2.5MM. $750K signing bonus. $500K in incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Kendall Wright, WR (Bears): One year, $2MM. $250K signing bonus. $2MM in incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).

NFC Notes: Giants, 49ers, Eagles, Vikings

The Giants would like to re-sign free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, but they’re unlikely to offer him anything more than a one-year, $4MM deal because of their lack of cap room, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. That probably won’t suffice for Hankins, who’s reportedly seeking upward of $10MM per year. Free agency hasn’t unfolded to Hankins’ liking, and one reason is that some around the NFL don’t see him as “an impact player,” sources told Vacchiano. Hankins went without a sack during a nine-game 2015 campaign and only notched three last year, Vacchiano notes. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus wasn’t impressed with Hankins’ performance in 2016, as it graded the 24-year-old just 72nd out of 127 qualified interior D-linemen.

More from the NFC:

  • The 49ers have used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who met with the team Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Despite a less-than-ideal showing at the scouting combine, Foster figures to be among the first players chosen in this year’s draft, meaning he might end up with the 49ers at No. 2 overall. Of course, considering general manager John Lynch is willing to trade the pick, it’s possible San Francisco could move down a few selections and and still nab Foster.
  • The Eagles seem to be targeting offensive playmakers as they get ready to pick 14th pick in the draft. Along with the previously reported Dalvin Cook, the Eagles hosted LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams on Friday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links).
  • Tight end Jared Cook‘s decision to accept the Raiders’ two-year, $12.2MM offer (including $5MM guaranteed) Thursday came after he turned down a significantly higher amount of guarantees from the Vikings, per Caplan (Twitter link). This is speculation, but both the Raiders’ quarterback (Derek Carr) versus the Vikings’ (Sam Bradford) and the fact that Cook clearly wouldn’t have been the best tight end on Minnesota’s roster may have tipped the scales in Oakland’s favor. The Vikings have a star tight end, Kyle Rudolph, who caught 83 passes last year. At the same time, Raiders tight ends Clive Walford and Lee Smith combined for 44 receptions.
  • Although former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan wanted to sign Kirk Cousins to an extension during 2015 training camp, the club waited on a new Cousins deal due to concerns over how fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III would react, writes Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. McCloughan was given the go-ahead to negotiate with Cousins in December 2015, but by then Cousins already had a season of solid production under his belt. Since that time, Washington has placed two consecutive franchise tags on Cousins at a cost of nearly $45MM.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Raiders To Sign Jared Cook

The best tight end remaining in free agency is coming off the board. The Raiders are signing Jared Cook to a two-year contract worth up to $12.2MM, including a fully guaranteed first year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Cook will earn $5MM in 2017, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter).

Jared Cook

Oakland was among several teams that targeted Cook, who nearly re-signed with the Packers and also drew interest from the Bills, Seahawks, Lions and Vikings. Minnesota made a strong effort to sign Cook, relays Caplan (on Twitter), but his meeting with the Raiders on Thursday went well enough for a deal to come together with Oakland. Star quarterback Derek Carr helped convince the 29-year-old pass catcher to sign, per Caplan, who tweets that the two “spent a lot of time” with each other – including watching tape – and “bonded.”

Before Carr recruited Cook to the Raiders, he helped lure in receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Those two will provide further weaponry in a high-octane passing attack whose best options are wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cook will move atop the Raiders’ tight end depth chart and slot in ahead of Clive Walford and Lee Smith, giving the team an impressive trio at the position.

The Raiders will be the fourth team for Cook, a 2009 third-round pick who has combined for 303 receptions and 17 touchdowns in stints with the Titans, Rams and Packers. In his lone season in Green Bay, Cook appeared in 10 games and caught 30 of 51 targets for 377 yards and a TD. He was far more impressive in the Packers’ two-game playoff run, in which he combined for 13 receptions on 23 targets, 181 yards and two scores.

Thanks to Cook’s agreement, PFR’s top-ranked unsigned tight end is now Luke Willson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Host Jared Cook

Assuming he doesn’t sign after meeting with the Vikings, free agent tight end Jared Cook will take a visit with the Raiders, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Jared Cook

Oakland hasn’t been linked to Cook thus far in the free agent period, but the club was reportedly interested in fellow tight end Martellus Bennett, who has since taken Cook’s place in Green Bay. Clearly, the Raiders are attempting to upgrade their tight end group, which currently includes Clive Walford, Lee Smith, and Gabe HolmesMychal Rivera, who appeared in 13 games for Oakland last year, is an unrestricted free agent.

In what will go down as his only year with the Packers, Cook appeared in 10 games in 2016 and caught 30 of 51 targets for 377 yards and a touchdown. He was far more impressive in the Packers’ two-game playoff run, in which he combined for 13 receptions on 23 targets, 181 yards and two scores. Previously, Cook spent 2009-15 with the Titans and Rams and totaled 273 catches and 16 touchdowns.

Cook, who is now the top free agent tight end on the market, has also drawn interest from the Seahawks, Bills, and Lions, and had discussions about re-signing with the Packers before they brought in Bennett and Lance Kendricks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jared Cook To Visit Vikings

If tight end Jared Cook does not sign with the Seahawks, he’ll take a visit to the Vikings soon, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. A return to the Packers, of course, is no longer possible after Green Bay signed Martellus Bennett. Jared Cook

Cook now stands as the top tight end available and there are four teams known to have interest: the Seahawks, Vikings, Bills, and Lions. Interestingly, the Bills (Charles Clay), Seahawks (Jimmy Graham), and Lions (Eric Ebron) already have big name starters at tight end. It stands to reason that these clubs could be looking to emphasize two tight end sets in 2017.

The Vikings have Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan II under contract. They’re down a tight end, however, after Rhett Ellison signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Giants. Ellison offered a much different skill set than Cook, so they might still be in the market for a blocking tight end even if they sign him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jared Cook To Meet With Seahawks

One of the top unsigned UFAs, Jared Cook will make a trip to Seattle to meet with the Seahawks, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Cook saw the Packers move on by signing Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, but he’ll now visit a team that has one of the league’s best tight ends in Jimmy Graham.

Cook is the top tight end available after Bennett took his spot in Green Bay. Despite Aaron Rodgers‘ desire to keep Cook in Wisconsin, the Packers have now replaced him and added his former Rams teammate as depth. The sides broke off talks on Friday, but the Bills and Lions previously resided as top Cook suitors.

Seattle, though, profiles as a more interesting destination due to Graham having proven he can thrive in the Seahawks’ offense last season. The former Saints dynamo rebounded from a severe knee injury and completed a 65-catch, 923-yard, six-touchdown season. Cook would obviously strengthen the Seahawks’ pass offense more, though.

[RELATED: Latest On Seahawks’ RB Search]

Luke Willson remains unsigned after serving as Graham’s complement last season. Seattle attempted to keep the fifth-year tight end before free agency began, but its offer wasn’t enough to keep Willson off the market. Cook would bring an upgrade if the Seahawks are serious about spending to fortify their passing game.

They lost out on the bidding to land T.J. Lang and still have issues up front, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cook showed with Rodgers he can be a difference-maker in big spots. He caught 18 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay’s three playoff tilts. His return from injury last season coincided with the Packers’ six-game run to win the NFC North.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Sign Martellus Bennett

Just after learning they wouldn’t re-sign Jared Cook, the Packers have added a new tight end, as Green Bay announced that it has signed Martellus Bennett. It’s a three-year, $21MM deal, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com"<strong.

Bennett, who turns 30 years old today, will earn quite the birthday present as he heads to the Packers in order to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. Of course, Bennett didn’t have it too bad in New England with Tom Brady, but once the Patriots acquired fellow tight end Dwayne Allen from the Colts, Bennett appeared as good as gone. Bennett reportedly rejected an in-season extension from New England, and was looking for $9MM annually on the open market.

With Cook out of the picture, Bennett becomes the primary tight end in a Green Bay offense that ranked fourth in DVOA last season. While Cook posted a solid bounceback season in 2016, there’s little question Bennett is the superior player: Bennett ranked as PFR’s No. 20 overall free agent and the No. 1 tight end on the market, ahead of Cook, Jack Doyle, and Vernon Davis.

The Patriots acquired Bennett and a sixth-round pick from the Bears in exchange for a fourth-round pick, and the acquisition paid immediate dividends. Appearing in all 16 games, Bennett managed 55 receptions for 701 yards and seven touchdowns, and helped New England overcome the loss of fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Bennett created a healthy market during the legal tampering and the first two days of free agency. The Raiders reportedly showed “heavy interest” in his services, while Giants, Jaguars, and Raiders were also eyeing Bennett. Instead, he’ll slot in alongside Richard Rodgers in the Packers’ tight end group.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com was the first to report the deal (Twitter link), while Tom Pelissero of USA Today noted that it’s a multi-year contract (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.