Saints Rumors: Ex-Raiders TE Jared Cook Nearing Contract with New Orleans

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured Columnist

AFC tight end Jared Cook (87), of the Oakland Raiders, lines up for a play during the second half of the NFL Pro Bowl football game against the NFC Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints are "nearing" a deal with free-agent tight end Jared Cook, according to Pro Football Talk on Wednesday.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning that "the Saints are expected" to sign Cook.

The 31-year-old veteran is coming off the first Pro Bowl selection of his career.

Cook recorded career highs in receptions (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) with the Oakland Raiders in 2018. He led the team in all three categories, although running back Jalen Richard tied him in 68 catches.

Per Pro Football Focus, Cook recorded the fifth-highest receiving grade (81.5) among tight ends a season ago.

Last season wasn't a fluke, though. He has been a productive pass-catcher throughout his career. 

The South Carolina Gamecock has averaged 48 receptions for 629 yards and three scores since establishing himself in 2011 with Tennessee. The Georgia native has put those numbers up even while moving from team to team, as he has also suited up for St. Louis and Green Bay.

New Orleans, meanwhile, needed to address the tight end position following the retirement of Benjamin Watson. Earlier this offseason, the Saints signed Garrett Griffin from the practice squad and Nate Wozniak to a reserve/futures contract. That provided the team with options at the position, but neither has Cook's track record.

The addition of Cook should help a passing attack that ranked 12th last year. More importantly, it gives the team another playmaker to utilize as it looks to avenge last season's controversial NFC title game loss.

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