The Green Bay Packers are hosting a free agent for a visit. Really. A real, live, free agent, who played with a different NFL team last year.
Now granted, this player was released from his contract and is a street free agent. As we all know, that is the kind of free agent that Ted Thompson has preferred to sign over the past eight years - signing one of those players would not cost the team a compensatory draft pick next season, and the Packers are currently projected for a 5th-rounder (for Casey Hayward) and a 7th-rounder (for Scott Tolzien).
But enough talk. On to the report:
Veteran former Rams tight end Jared Cook visiting Packers, according to league sources— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 15, 2016
A follow-up report from ESPN's Rob Demovsky indicates that the visit actually took place on Monday. Either way, that's an athletic tight end who is under the age of 30 spending time in Green Bay. So what's the deal with Cook?
Coming out of South Carolina in 2009, Cook was a star at the Scouting Combine. He measured in at 6'5", weighed 246 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds, and posted a 41-inch vertical. He also is a durable player, having missed just five games in his seven-year NFL career with Tennessee and St. Louis. He also has averaged 11.9 yards per reception or better in each of the past six years, maxing out at 15.5 in 2011.
Cook has a career catch rate of just 58%, and the biggest knock on him are his inconsistent hands. Packers fans ate Jermichael Finley alive for his drops in Green Bay, and Cook has received similar treatment from Rams and Titans fans throughout his career. He also has not been a significant producer in the red zone, never scoring more than five touchdowns in a season. For comparison, Richard Rodgers scored eight times last year, with seven of them coming inside the 20. (You might remember the one that was longer than 20 yards. The Lions certainly do.)
Cook is also a relatively steady producer, despite having a ridiculous poor group of quarterbacks who have thrown passes to him in his NFL career. Here are the names of the players who have thrown to him:
- Vince Young
- Kerry Collins
- Matt Hasselbeck
- Jake Locker
- Sam Bradford
- Kellen Clemens
- Austin Davis
- Shaun Hill
- Nick Foles
- Case Keenum
That is not exactly a pantheon of great, or even good quarterback play, and it stands to reason that Aaron Rodgers would be able to help Cook put up better numbers (at least on a per-play or per-catch basis).
Ultimately, Cook is a known commodity at this point - a big, very athletic tight end, who has inconsistent hands. However, he could make a decent complement to Richard Rodgers. Let Rodgers do the work in the red zone and on the line, while Cook plays more of a "move" role and is the athletic field-stretcher between the 20s.
There are crazier ideas than signing Cook. Let's see what Ted Thompson does.