Tight end Jared Cook proved to be a nice free-agent pickup by the Raiders in 2017. He had 54 catches for 688 yards and two touchdowns, ranking second on the team in catches and first in yards.
But was he a plus or a minus on a team that plummeted from 12-4 in 2016 to 6-10?
Cook was among players mentioned by Raiders announced Greg Papa recently who may have had a negative impact on team chemistry, along with running back Marshawn Lynch.
"I think the culture of the locker room was different this year and when I point to it, I think that bringing in Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook, and more so Marshawn, but also Cook to a lesser degree," said Papa recently on 95.7 The Game.
Cook signed a two-year deal with Oakland last year and is due to get $5.3 million in 2018, so he’s still on the roster as the team heads into its offseason program.
Papa pointed to Lynch and Cook as being players who may not have been good for the makeup of the roster in 2017 — others have included receiver Michael Crabtree in that conversation — but he also noted the chemistry could have been damaged as a result of the constant losing and disappointment of a bad year.
Now with a new coaching staff on board, led by head coach Jon Gruden, it’s being projected that some high-priced veterans such as Crabtree or Lynch could be released.
As Jeff Smith of 247sports.com noted, it was new to hear Cook mentioned as a negative.
"Cook never seemed to cause any issues, so it’s hard to know exactly what he could have done that would have caused any rifts inside the Raiders locker room," he wrote recently.
During the season, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he loved throwing to Cook because his combination of size and speed is rare at his position.
"There’s a lot of tight ends that can run the intermediate and short routes, but not a lot of them on third down can run a go route and catch a 35-yard gain," said Carr. "Those are few and far between. Having a guy like Jared to have that speed that he doesn’t just run the short stuff or intermediate stuff, he can take the top off and I’m liable to throw it."
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