Going into free agency this offseason, tight end Jared Cook and the St. Louis Rams were an obvious match. Cook wanted to get out of Tennessee, and the Rams wanted a physically gifted tight end who could be a strong offensive threat down the field.
On Tuesday, Cook and the Rams came to agreement on a five-year contract worth $35.1 million (profootballtalk). The price may seem a little steep, but in reality, Cook is going to be worth every penny of it.
Look at some of the best teams in the NFL these days: The Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Falcons and Texans. These teams have a lot of similarities, but one of the most prevalent is that they all have a great tight end. Baltimore has Dennis Pitta, San Francisco has Vernon Davis, New England has Rob Gronkowski, Atlanta has Tony Gonzalez and Houston has Owen Daniels.
The Rams now have Jared Cook.
This past season in Tennessee, Cook had 44 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns. At 6'5'' 246 pounds, Cook is a huge target for Sam Bradford to throw at over the middle of the field. Cook is also very athletic, featuring a vertical jump of 41 inches at the 2009 combine and a 4.49 40-yard dash.
Cook will fit in well with the Rams. He was drafted by Jeff Fisher while he was still coaching the Titans in 2009, so he is familiar with his coach, and more importantly, gives the team an instant upgrade.
I mentioned how most elite teams these days have an elite tight end. The Rams tight ends were not at all bad last year, but they were anything but elite. Their main guy, Lance Kendricks, had 42 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.
His stats are very similar to those of Cook's from last season, but Kendricks is more of a run blocker. It is great that he can go out and catch passes, as that will only add another element to the St. Louis offense, but he should not be the main guy.
Having Cook on the team will take more of the pressure off Kendricks and allow him to fill a role that he is built for.
This move also gives St. Louis more flexibility in the draft. If the Rams were not going to sign a tight end in free agency, then they were likely going to have to draft a guy like Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz in the first or second round.
Now that the Rams have Jared Cook, the tight end position is no longer a necessity. The Rams can focus more on scouting receivers, lineman and safeties, which are currently three of their biggest areas of need.
St. Louis needed to make a splash in free agency and they did. The Rams are a little tight on cap space right now, so they needed to find a few impact players who they could afford. They certainly found one in Jared Cook.
There is still much for the Rams to do this offseason, but they could not have started out much better. They found a young player who can develop into one of the better tight ends in the NFL and filled a major area of concern for next season.
By being aggressive in free agency and the draft, but staying smart at the same time, this front office is turning the St. Louis Rams into a very good football team.