Grading St. Louis Rams Signing of Jared Cook
The St. Louis Rams made some real strides in their first year under head coach Jeff Fisher, but the team rolled into the 2013 offseason facing a great deal on uncertainty in the passing game.
The Rams took steps to address that uncertainty on the first day of free agency, beating out the Miami Dolphins to secure the services of tight end Jared Cook. They signed the 25-year-old to five-year contract according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
How does this signing affect the Rams moving forward? Let's take a look.
Fit: The Rams Needed Weapons
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The Rams' receiving corps already wasn't going to be confused with the Green Bay Packers any time soon. With both Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola hitting free agency, the Rams needed to take steps to get quarterback Sam Bradford some weapons.
Add in that tight end Lance Kendricks has disappointed in his two NFL seasons, and the addition of Jared Cook had to bring a smile to Bradford's face.
Talent: Cook Has It, but Will He Realize It?
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Tight ends who are viable threats down the field are all the rage in today's National Football League.
Jared Cook very much fits that mold.
The four-year veteran has averaged over 13 yards a catch over his career, and in 2011 Cook's 15.5 yards a reception led all tight ends who had over 40 grabs.
Also, as Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out, Cook possesses 4.49 speed.
That's not bad for a wide receiver. It's fantastic for a 6'5" tight end.
Consistency was something of an issue for Cook while he was with the Tennessee Titans, but his raw talent is undeniable.
Price: Say WHAT?
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The Jared Cook signing reminds me of my last trip to the mall.
There was a lot of stuff I saw that I liked, right up until I glanced at the price tag.
There were rumblings that Cook could get that kind of coin in free agency, but $40 million is a lot to pay a player who has never had 50 receptions in a season.
Risk: A Big Gamble
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The St. Louis Rams took a substantial risk by signing Cook for a couple of reasons.
First: Any time you're one of the early players in free agency, that means that you're going to be paying premium prices.
The longer that players stay on the market, the more their sticker prices usually drop.
Second: The Rams paid Jared Cook for the player he could be, not the player he's been.
Yes, you can salivate over his speed, point to his yards per catch and say that the Titans didn't use Cook correctly.
Still, the fact remains that to this point in his career, Cook's production hasn't come anywhere close to his potential.
Final Grade: A Roll of the Dice
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The Jared Cook signing could easily go one of two ways.
If Cook plays to the level he appears capable, then Sam Bradford will get the big target in the passing game he so badly needs, and $8 million a season won't be that tall a price to pay.
However, if Cook doesn't mesh well with Bradford in the Gateway City, continues to be a headache when he feels he isn't getting the ball enough and puts up numbers in St. Louis like he did in Nashville, then this is a deal that could haunt the team down the road.
For that reason, Jared Cook's final grade is right down the middle.