The Green Bay Packers might be close to filling their biggest offseason need, namely a tight end who can make plays down the field.
Former St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook is visiting the Packers, according to multiple reports. Cook, a third-round pick in 2009, spent his first four seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Of all the tight end prospects available on the open market when free agency opened last week, Cook makes the most sense for Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Cook was released from the Rams last month, meaning it would not require a compensatory pick for a team to sign him. Thompson is notorious for his affinity for draft picks.
Cook caught 39 passes for 481 yards — and, most importantly for the Packers, a healthy 12.3 yards per catch — with the Rams last season. His production was especially impressive given the Rams' dreadful quarterback situation. It's safe to expect Cook’s production would increase with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him passes, rather than Nick Foles and Case Keenum.
The Packers are in dire need of a tight end with speed to stretch the field. Starting tight end Richard Rodgers has been a fine possession target, catching 58 passes for 510 yards last season. But a paltry 8.8 yards per reception highlighted Rodgers’ inability to make big plays downfield.
Cook has averaged 12.8 yards per catch over his seven-year career. While he isn’t a star, Cook has flashed the speed he showed with a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in 2009. For comparison, Richard Rodgers ran a 4.87-second combine dash.
In tandem, the duo could be tough for opposing defenses, mixing Cook’s speed with Rodgers’ ability to make plays down in the red zone. Rodgers caught eight touchdown last season, more than Cook has ever caught in a single year. Cook had eight touchdowns total with the Titans, then eight more with the Rams.
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