Multiple reports, including from Cook himself, have Jared Cook close to signing with the Saints. If and when he does, the Saints will have by far their best pass-catching tight end since Jimmy Graham roamed the Superdome. New Orleans might have forgotten to make the position a big part of the passing game, however.
With only elderly Benjamin Watson, Josh Hill and other lesser lights in recent years, the Saints haven't featured the tight end in the offense the last couple of years. In fact, only four teams have completed fewer passes to tight ends the last two seasons, and only five have thrown for fewer yards to them. The Saint have had a top passing offense in both seasons, of course, so it's even more noteworthy.
|TEAM TIGHT ENDS, 2017-2018|
With Cook as the main player, those numbers should go up. He's a very good receiver, coming off a season where he set career highs in catches (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (6). Why didn't his previous three teams (Titans, Rams, Packers) ever get that kind of production out of him? Odd. Anyway, with how little the Saints have used their tight ends the last couple of years, I'm thinking Cook might get drafted too early in fantasy leagues. The Saints have managed just fine with wideouts and running backs catching a ton of passes, and they're well-stocked at wide receiver.
Meanwhile Cook's old team, Oakland, has ranked 8th in yardage by tight ends over those same two seasons. Sounds like we should all be looking to select one of their tight ends with a late-round pick. Just need to figure out who the main player will be. They've got three guys on the roster: Darren Waller, Lee Smith and Derek Carrier. Waller, a former Raven and converted wideout, has intriguing athleticism, but just 18 career catches. Smith caught 3 TDs for Oakland last year, so he's a possibility. Carrier is a journeyman blocker.
Cook will be a fantasy starter next season, but I'm not sure he'll be on any of my teams -- probably selected too early. I think the camp battle in Oakland (perhaps they'll draft someone with all of their extra picks?) will be interesting.