PHOENIX - Beyond his speed and athleticism, tight end Jared Cook also impressed Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio with his smooth transition after joining the Green Bay Packers.
It was a turbulent 2016 season for Cook. He injured his ankle in Week 3, missing the next six games just as he was finding his rhythm in the offense. It didn’t stop Cook from catching 30 passes for 377 yards in 10 games, and becoming a playoff hero for his 36-yard catch that set up a game-winning kick in Dallas.
“We kind of looked at a lot of different factors,” Del Rio said Tuesday of the Raiders signing Cook as a free agent. “Certainly, him being adaptable and intelligent enough to pick up systems and do the things we need him to do is a big part of it.”
Cook showed he could quickly build chemistry with an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. It’s something Del Rio hopes his new tight end can duplicate with the Raiders’ own Pro Bowl quarterback, Derek Carr.
With the Raiders, Cook will join third-year tight end Clive Walford to give Carr two athletic receiving targets. It’s similar to what the Packers gained after Cook’s departure, signing Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Walford caught 33 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games last season.
Del Rio hopes Cook provides competition for the still-developing Walford.
“We’re really excited to have Jared,” Del Rio said. “He’s developed. At this point, you’re getting a guy who’s in his prime. Physically, he’s grown from where he came out to where he is now. He worked on his body, his strength. He’s a guy we think can do a little bit of everything. He blocks a little better than maybe he’s given credit for.
“He definitely can be a matchup problem for defenses to deal with and handle. We see a number of those guys throughout the year. We’re happy to have one.”