On Monday the Green Bay Packers announced the signing of former L.A. Rams tight end Jared Cook on a one-year-deal. Tight end has been a position of need for the Packers since Jermichael Finley was forced to retired due to injury in 2013.
Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers have both filled in adequately but the two aforementioned players are very much of the same breed: good blockers and decent red zone threats but nothing to scare opposing defenses when it comes to getting vertical – Quarless has also been released leaving Cook and Rodgers are the one-two tight end combination.
Although Rodgers caught eight touchdowns last season – including that one insane Hail Mary catch to beat the Detroit Lions – he is more of a red zone only threat, big bodied and able to post up defenders and get the ball. What was highlighted outside of the red zone was the third year pro’s ability to really move.
Cook changes that. After a mediocre three year stint with the Rams the seventh year man will give quarterback Aaron Rodgers another vertical weapon and another man who can work the middle of the field. Long limbed and with speed to burn Cook will surely benefit from some of those free plays Aaron Rodgers manufactures with his use of the hard count.
Cook’s numbers may not be off the charts – 39 receptions for 481 yards and zero touchdowns last season – but remember the cast of signal callers who he’s had throwing him the ball. Rodgers is the type of QB who makes his receivers better and there is almost no doubt that will happen with Cook – Ted Thompson would not have signed the 28-year-old if he had any doubts about his ability to improve the Packers offense.
Cook averaged 12.3 yards per reception as opposed to the 8.8 of Rodgers and the 7.8 posted by Quarless. Although limited to only 39 receptions Cook had seven receptions of over 20 yards – one more than Rodgers who logged 19 more receptions. Perhaps under the radar because of his time with the Rams but there is no doubt that Cook greatly upgrades the tight end position in Lambeau Field.
It also helps Aaron Rodgers and Richard Rodgers mix it up when it comes to play calling – and number 12 does not need any other advantages. But now the Packers can roll out two tight end sets knowing that both can catch, Rodgers is a good blocker and all in all just add more strings to the offensive bow of Mike McCarthy.
The Cook acquisition on its own is not a sexy pick up but when you look at the bigger picture he could play a vital part in an offense that has the potential to rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. The Pack will welcome back number one wide receiver Jordy Nelson who has a remarkable chemistry with his quarterback. In turn that will see Randall Cobb move back to the slot where he is most deadly and will see single coverage with Nelson soaking up double teams. Team that with Devante Adams, Jeff Janis and slim line Eddie Lacy providing excellent balance in the run game then Green Bay’s offense looks as frightful as it did in 2014.
It also changes the Packers need in the draft. Linebacker has been a desperate need for Green Bay. Mainly for depth but also so that Clay Matthews can go back outside where he is most effective and form a formidable pass rush with Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels. Offensive line may also be another way to go for Green Bay as they suffered with injuries along it throughout the 2015 campaign. Cook frees up one draft pick for the Packers the go and strengthen in other areas and if any team knows how to use their draft picks its Green Bay.