Tight end Jared Cook had a great season for the Raiders in 2018, and head coach Jon Gruden has said he wants Cook to be with the team in 2019.
“We’ll do the best we can to get him back,” Gruden said earlier this offseason. “It will be competitive. I’m sure there are a lot of teams who look at the tape and put him on their wish list.”
Gruden appears right about that.
Cook, an unrestricted free agent, will be a hot commodity on the free-agent market when it opens next week – if the Raiders don’t work out a deal with him first.
Just this week, reports have several teams linked to signing Cook, including the Saints, Lions, Falcons, Broncos, Bengals, Bills and Seahawks.
Cook not only is coming off a terrific year, in which he set career bests in catches (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (6), but he’s entering a free-agent period in which the tight end group is thin.
Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group wrote recently that the Raiders want to retain Cook, but are being patient.
“The Raiders still want to re-sign their best player from last season, who’s due to hit unrestricted free agency at the start of the new league year on March 13,” he wrote. “The Raiders want to wait and see what Cook’s market is, though, and it’s likely to be substantial.”
The Raiders run the risk of losing Cook – who went to the Pro Bowl in 2018 – with that strategy. But new GM Mike Mayock told reporters in February that he has to look at the big picture.
“Free agency is a jigsaw puzzle,” said Mayock. “We have a bunch of needs to prioritize. We’d love to have Jared back, but he’s trying to figure out what the market’s going to be, what does he want to do, and what can we do once we find out what that market is.”