In 2016, the Raiders didn’t get as much production from their tight ends as they’d hoped. Mychal Rivera, Clive Walford and Lee Smith combined for just 57 catches and 581 yards, the third-lowest total in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
So, general manager Reggie McKenzie has tried to upgrade the position.
The Raiders announced they have signed free-agent tight end Jared Cook, the 29-year-old who had 30 catches in an injury-marred season with the Green Bay Packers in 2016.
Cook, who came into the league with Tennessee in 2009 as a third-round selection out of South Carolina, is a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder who spent four seasons with the Titans before three years in St. Louis with the Rams and last year in Green Bay. He had his best years with the Rams, catching 51 and 52 passes in 2013 and 2014. For his career, Cook has 303 catches for 3,880 yards and 17 touchdowns, with an average of 12.8 yards per reception.
With Rivera certain to leave in free agency, Cook will combine with Walford and Smith to form the tight end corps, with Cook and Walford the primary pass catchers and Smith the top blocker.
According to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, the Raiders gave Cook a two-year deal worth up to $12.2 million.
On a recent visit to the Raiders, Cook spent time with quarterback Derek Carr, watching film and touring the facility. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, Carr was a key part of the process of recruiting Cook.
Cook had an ankle injury in 2016, but played through it, earning praise from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who wanted the Packers to re-sign him.
Said Cook of Carr: “Love the kid, man. He’s cool. He’s a real down-to-earth guy. I enjoy talking with him about the offensive system and different plays that they run and how they see me fitting in this offense.”
Cook believes he can be another strong receiving option for Carr, joining wideouts Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts and tight end Walford.
“Just another weapon for Derek to use,” Cook said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just to be able to stretch the field, be able to beat one-on-one matchups, be able to get down into the secondary at a fast pace, be able to create separation off of different routes.
“When I’m coming out of my breaks, just a different radius that it gives him. A different element to put the ball in places and just keep the chains moving.”