On Thursday, the Oakland Raiders made a powerful offseason move and signed unrestricted free agent and former Green Bay Packer, Jared Cook. According to NFL Network, the team and Cook agreed to a two-year, $12.2 million deal. Cook signed with the Raiders after leaving the Minnesota Vikings without a deal. He also had a planned visit with the Packers’ non-division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, in the near future. However, perhaps the most shocking news to Packers fans was when Green Bay announced they were ending contract negotiations with Jared Cook. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was determined to have the veteran tight-end back in green and gold for the 2017 season.
However, the same day the Packers announced they ended their contract discussion with Cook, they signed Martellus Bennett, just weeks after he contributed to the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win. Some reports claim that Cook was offered more than Bennett from the Packers, including one report from ESPN’s Jason Wilde. However, Jared Cook took to Twitter in response to these rumors, claiming that he “definitely did not turn down a deal.” After the Packers cut ties with the University of South Carolina alum, the Raiders saw their opportunity to make a big offensive gain.
Cook originally entered the league as a Tennessee Titan after being drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. He spent seven seasons with the Titans and then with the St. Louis Rams before joining the Pack last year. His time with the Packers is perhaps most remembered by two significant games. The first was when Cook was coming off injury and joined the team on Sunday Night Football vs. the Washington Redskins during Week 11 when the Packers were on a losing streak, where he recorded six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Though the Packers suffered an embarrassing loss that night, it was the last game they lost until the NFC Championship game vs. the Atlanta Falcons. However, Cook’s name was a buzz around the NFL toward the end of the season after his phenomenal 36-yard catch vs. the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round playoff game that ended 34-31 in favor of the Packers, thanks to the Aaron Rodgers-Jared Cook connection. Cook told NBC he hears about the catch everyday, no matter where he is.
Cook was sought after by multiple teams, but perhaps misread his market after being a top target for Aaron Rodgers. However, the Raiders got exactly what they needed with Cook, and Raiders fans should be excited to see how he plays into their offense this year.
The Oakland Raiders were an interesting team to watch this past season, and had some talented individuals that fortunately worked well together to create a powerful offense. The team went 12-4 in the 2016 season and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. A huge component of this successful team was the offensive side of the ball. The key to a great offense is the connection a quarterback has with his targets. It is clear to see that after two disappointing seasons, this is not the connection quarterback Derek Carr has with Raiders’ tight-end Clive Walford. Walford was drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft and just wrapped up his second season in Oakland. Out of the University of Miami, Walford was drafted in hopes to fill the role of being a difference-making tight-end for the black and silver. Unfortunately, his second season was as disappointing for the Raiders as his first, catching only 33 passes for 359 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was not what Oakland was expecting out of Walford.
However, Jared Cook has proven himself as a difference-maker for the Packers, which is what made him so appealing to the Raiders. Something that will really excite some Raiders fans is the instant connection between Jared Cook and Derek Carr. According to CSN Bay Area, Carr took it upon himself, before the contract negotiations, to watch film with Cook and discuss how the quarterback personally saw Cook fitting into the offense. Obviously Cook liked what he heard, because he signed the contract later that day, and even expressed to CSN how well him and Carr bonded. Cook knows how important this off-the-field bond is, because that is what made his connection with Aaron Rodgers during games so impressive.
Derek Carr can be looked at as a “young Aaron Rodgers”, with excellent hands, view of the field, and command of his team. Carr has two superstar targets to look to on the field, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who contributed largely to the success of the team in the 2016 season. Carr also has threats such as Seth Roberts and Cordarrelle Patterson to look for in the passing game. Much like Aaron Rodgers had a plethora of choices every time he dropped back when Cook was a member of the Packers, Jared Cook just sees himself as another superstar for Carr to look for downfield. Cook is a large presence on the field, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 254 pounds. The ex-Packer will be able to stretch the field for Carr and beat one-on-one matches to get down into the secondary, something he proved was his strength with his year in Green Bay. He will be a compliment to what receivers Cooper and Crabtree do on the outside. Cook is known for being reliable, and is someone Carr will look to on third downs and in the red zone. Overall, Cook will definitely be an integral weapon on the Raiders’ offense, and is someone Raiders fans should be excited to be joining Oakland for the 2017 season.
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