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Jared Cook, "Frugal" Packers Still with an Important Decision to Make

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Jared Cook, "Frugal" Packers Still with an Important Decision to Make

Ladarius Green? Martellus Bennett? Coby Fleener?

The answer for the Packers at tight end a year ago was unknown, but many thought one of the aforementioned names could be one. 

Green went to Pittsburgh. Bennett went to New England and won a Super Bowl. Fleener went to New Orleans. Where did that leave Green Bay, who had been lacking a big play-making body at the position since the untimely end of Jermichael Finley's career?

An unexpected signing suddenly fell through at the end of March 2016, well into the commencement of the free agency signing period. The answer the team had been looking for was found no further than St. Louis in Jared Cook. A signature on the dotted line and $2.7 million dollars later, Cook was en route to Green Bay, Wisconsin a week after already taking his physical with the team.

The Packers were getting a 6'5" vertical threat who was averaging 4.75 dropped passes over his last four seasons —  three with the Rams, one with the Titans in Tennessee. In fact, his dropping errors were a big critique in whether or not general manager Ted Thompson made the right decision in passing up other free agent options for Cook. The critics were soon put to rest, as Cook helped quarterback Aaron Rodgers engineer a high-flying aerial assault in 2016 while on his way to leading the league in touchdown passes. Only one of Rodgers' 40 passing scores were to Cook, however.

A cliche concept or not, a decent quarterback makes all the difference in the success of his receivers. Cook never had a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback to work with in Tennessee or St. Louis, and that may have been a likely factor that benefited to his underachieving in terms of becoming a game-breaking tight end whose name would be mentioned in the same conversations as the Jason Wittens and the Rob Gronkowskis of the NFL.

Cook's dynamic presence on the field last season goes beyond looking at a sheet cluttered with statistics, yet, the evidence was in front of everyone.

The Packers were 8-2 without Cook and 2-4 without him.

After suffering a high ankle sprain in week three against the Detroit Lions, Cook wasn't seen until six weeks later in front of a national Monday Night Football audience. In response to the bright lights and high expectations in the midst of his return, Cook recorded 105 receiving yards. Albeit in a losing effort, it was his most receiving yards in a game since the 2013 season opener — his first game as a Ram.

As Cook began transitioning himself into more of a role in the offense, Rodgers' confidence levels in the veteran wide receiver-like tight end grew. He was clearly far more comfortable lobbing up passes down the perimeter sideline for Cook and rely on him to beat or out-hustle his man for the ball. His production on third down was astronomical and was a big reason why the Packers completed a runner-up to best in the league 46.7 percent of their third down attempts in 2016.

Up until the final two weeks of the season, Rodgers was 9-of-11 for 172 yards when looking for Cook on third down.

His success wasn't just seen in his limited regular season action (10 games) either. Cook maintained reliability during the postseason run all the way through the NFC Championship, including a six catch, 103-yard performance against the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional round. 36 of those yards coming in the winding seconds on an otherworldly catch that set up Packers kicker Mason Crosby with the game-winning field goal.

The Packers averaged 28.4 points with Cook in the line-up for the 10 games he was healthy enough to play in, whereas without him, they were averaging just 24.6.

If there was a further testament as to why retaining Cook is a priority for the Packers, look no further than Rodgers' comments at the culmination of the season. With no hesitation, Rodgers made it clear that re-signing Cook should be amongst the team's priorities this offseason. 

Despite Rodgers stressing the importance of having Cook, Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported over the weekend that there hasn't been much progress between both sides and that the Packers were being "frugal."

Cook's market value is currently hovering around $3.4 million dollars, well over how much the Packers initially spent to bring Cook into town. With defensive back Micah Hyde and outside linebacker Nick Perry more than likely set to hit the market, there has been just as much stagnancy on the offensive side of the ball between Thompson and the Packers' free agent-to-bes. The market value for right guard T.J. Lang may be too expensive for the Packers to retain him as well, and the talks with running back Eddie Lacy haven't carried much substance either.

The opportunity awaits Cook in Green Bay, but with free agency officially starting today at 4 p.m. EST., there is still time for the Packers to reach out and make an offer to any one of their contract-needy players.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (53) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

If TT RE-signs JC, it'll be at a price that TT considers fair. He will not get into a bidding war. Has TT ever been in one of those?

dobber's picture

Maybe in a game of pinochle...

Savage57's picture

Fans fret about overpaying someone like Cook a million or two a year on a 3-4 year deal, yet when one of the team's stars fall short and burn that much in season, they clamor that the money wasn't wasted, they're a 'difference maker' that 'opponents have to account for'.

Isn't that exactly what we saw from Cook last season?

pooch's picture

Fans don't fret Thompson does

dobber's picture

I would argue that we're likely to be fretting a helluva lot more here on these blog sites than he is.

You have to have a pulse to fret...

Since '61's picture

Cook should be re-signed. To lose him to FA and need to start over again at TE would be inexcusable. Keep as many of Rodgers weapons as possible. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

Sometimes it looks like Aaron Rodgers pay you for posting your comments...

croatpackfan's picture

Sometimes it looks like Aaron Rodgers pay you for posting your comments...

tm_inter's picture

I like Cook too. But we don't know how much money he demands - apparently more than TT wants to give him. Anyhow, as TT often says, it's a process - meaning the negotiations are still going on.

RCPackerFan's picture

IMO, Cook is the top player the Packers have to find a way to resign. He is a game changing type of player. He changes the offense much like Finley did when he played.
The offense can't go back to the days of Richard Rodgers as our top TE.

MarkinMadison's picture

I just don't get what is happening here, unless TT makes some block-buster signing today that explains why he is being so cheap with his own guys. No movement on Perry, Hyde or Lacy? Really? Nothing for Cook? Really? Is TT saying that none of these guys are worth another contract? Isn't that an indictment of his success at draft and develop? You can't expect to replace all of these guys (plus Lang, Tretter, Peppers and Guion/Pennell) in the draft or with what you already have in-house and take a step forward this year. And now Rodgers is wondering about updating his contract? Please, go out and spend the money now so you can look him in the eye and tell him you need to money elsewhere so you can take a shot at another ring. He might respect that at least. Otherwise, don't be surprised if he starts venting more in public every single year.

stockholder's picture

We know Cook helped the offense. But TT is right here again. Cook is not worth 5mil a year! He needs to prove himself more. It took him time get off the IR. A-rod also had the emergence of Monty at RB. The old Nelson came back. The Wrs did well. Don't over rate his play-off catch. Can't blame TT here. The markets full of TEs. It's up to Cook to be sensible.

MarkinMadison's picture

There is some serious salary inflation going on the in NFL right now. I don't know that $5M a year is too much. Not at all.

porupack's picture

I think this "don't overpay" is a line that weak-stomach investors use all the time when lamenting a past investment that didn't pan out.

Speculation on his market value is $4 mil/year? And so what if he's paid $5m?

A million a year for 3 years....and he makes a difference in 2-3 wins per year?

Fast forward 3 years....and salary inflation makes this all silly fretting.

Pay Cook, and sign him to 3 years at least. Then draft a late round project in each of next 2 years.

What's so hard about this?

RCPackerFan's picture

update:

Jason La Canfora‏@JasonLaCanfora

Hearing Packers have a long-term agreement with Nick Perry. Huge win Green Bay. Keep the pass rushing LB. Should be announced today

Nick Perry's picture

Yup I saw it too. It's already up on Fox Sports & APC but no details. Jets and Falcons were 2 of the teams who wanted him as well.

RCPackerFan's picture

I haven't seen any details yet.

I just saw that the Lions and Bills are the 2 teams most interested in Cook. So we will see what happens there.

Nick Perry's picture

Well if Cook goes to the Lions or Bills I guess playing with a "Great QB" and a contender was all BS...LOL

RCPackerFan's picture

Exactly why I said the other day. We will see if he wants to take less money to play for the best QB in the league and have a realistic chance almost every year to make it to the Super Bowl. Or to take more money to play with a lesser QB.

sonomaca's picture

The tight ends are so good this year, that the Packers might actually consider drafting two. Engram at #29?

RCPackerFan's picture

Regardless of what happens at TE in FA. I think the Packers will draft a TE.

sonomaca's picture

What I'm saying is, let Cook go and draft two stud TE's.

dobber's picture

There's already a pretty full plate on that draft shopping list without 2 TEs being there, too.

sonomaca's picture

Well, how about dealing Hundley?

sonomaca's picture

I think #12 just made thinks more complicated. Would the deal Rodgers and keep Hundley if #12 wants too much money or too many years?

dobber's picture

As I understand, the Rodgers renegotiation thing is fake news.

OrganLeroy's picture

Hundley has NO MARKET!!! He had a strong rookie pre season then was hurt all of last pre season. my God, there will be no change at QB and unless Hundley blows up the pre season this year there will continue to be no market for him.

dobber's picture

Let's find out how much of the cap is left.

Taryn will be so pleased...

RCPackerFan's picture

Exactly... It will be interesting for sure.

lol. Yes Taryn will be thrilled...

Tarynfor12's picture

The displeasure those who wanted Perry retained will make mine minimal in comparison to what you don't get from him from the start of this 5 year albatross.....can't wait for the demented details, especially the guaranteed money. : )

mrtundra's picture

Pro Football Talk announced The Packers resigned Perry to a 5 year deal. No dollar amount was mentioned in the post. It sounds as if Cook is next...

nostradanus's picture

Cook is a good (not great) Tight End, he is a mis-match in the passing game for sure. Most importantly he has earned the trust of A. Rodgers and wants to be in Green Bay. The Packers are the best spot for him (and he knows it) They will sign him to a reasonable 2 - 3 year deal at a fair price and with some nice incentives.

Handsback's picture

I'm not sure, but I think the Packers are allowing the market to set the price for Cook. I heard or read about this. They, being NFL teams, let their FAs see what they can get on the open market and come back and match or make a better offer. I hope that's the case because Cook is a very valuable member of the offense.

Razer's picture

Like most, I would like to see Cook back and the Packers are no doubt working to make that happen. Let's face it, Cook's agent is shopping. Maybe the initial 1 year deal was part of the strategy. Have Aaron Rodger throw to you for a year then test free agency.

I don't know where Zach gets his 3.4 million dollar value but I doubt that we will see a bargain like this. Vernon Davis just fleeced Washington for 5 million per year and he is playing behind Jordan Reed. The funny (or sad) thing about these contracts is that they need to also fit the team/lockerroom. Randall Cobb is getting 10 million per season. How can you not pay Cook at least 5 million per year and hope that they don't talk :o)

Nick Perry's picture

Have you seen the contracts other Free Agent Tight Ends have been getting? I know you mentioned the Davis deal but Jack Doyle got $19 million over 3 years. Vernon Davis $15 million over 3 years. Jermaine Gresham 4 years for $28 million!!!!!

I have to say I can't blame Cook for wanting to get paid, not with that kind of money being handed out to those guys. That's just stupid money.

With the TE's coming out this year maybe the best thing might be to draft one in the 2nd round who'd probably be as good or better than Cook by the end of the year, next year for sure and use that money on defense.

MarkinMadison's picture

Exactly. If Vernon Davis is worth $5M/yr I'd happily give Cook the same deal. Similar production, younger, less headaches.

OrganLeroy's picture

With or without Cook, I'm a big proponent of grabbing a TE in the 2nd round and Hodges is the guy I want, hopefully Ted is thinking the same thing...though I doubt it.

porupack's picture

Good post Razer. I think you have make a solid speculation, that it is Cook's agent testing the market...and releasing this bit about "frugal". Its not negative against the pack...but sends subtle message to other teams.

I agree w you...don't understand why be so tight on this signing. He's a proven difference maker, and being tight on $1m per year. In 3 years....with overall NFL salary inflation....its nothing.
And being strict about WR market salaries compared to TE market salaries....who cares? Especially using your comparison b/w Cobb and Cook. Why fret about $1m and gamble on leaving such a potential hole?

If TT blows this....... pitch forks and racks come out.

Rossonero's picture

I still have hope they'll get a deal done for Cook. He's a great fit and he loves it in GB.

Nick Perry's picture

An interesting trade happened yesterday/this morning between the Colts and Patriots (Who else right). The Patriots just acquired Dwayne Allen from the Colts. The Colts sent Allen and a 6th rounder to the Patriots for a 4th rounder.

Allen is nothing to get crazy about, at least this far in his career. He hasn't been great but he is good in red zone and an excellent blocking TE. Point is there goes BB making a deal that could really HELP his team and give them insurance in the event Bennett leaves. TT went out and got Beau Sandland last season and stashed him on the PS.

Hmmmm... Maybe this is part of the formula WHY NE wins SB's and the Packers lose in the playoffs. They aren't afraid of giving up a 4th round pick.

Still trying to be patient as the master plan unfolds.

Razer's picture

I like Dwayne Allen and with Brady throwing to him, he will be a stud. Belichick is the best in the business. They have like 67 million in cap space and keep plugging guys into a well coached system. Of course Brady's contract hit of 14 million fits the Patriot way.

dobber's picture

Allen can be good...but he's got to find a way to stay on the field. Guy's always nicked up.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Allen started 14, 12 and 13 games for the last 3 seasons, but yes, he's been nicked up and plays about 2/3rds of the available snaps. As a good blocker, he's already better than RR. 35 receptions, 406 yds, 11.6 yd/rec, 6 TDs, he's okay as a receiver with Luck tossing the ball. Indy ate $3M dead.

Sounds like maybe a good deal. I don't follow Indy at all so I can't be sure. Indy gave this guy $7.3M AAV for 4 yrs with $16M guaranteed - they must have seen quite a bit in him.

croatpackfan's picture

Maybe because of that (giving 4th rounder) BB does not have Bakthiari, Lang, Daniels etc...

dobber's picture

No...he has SB trophies.

dobber's picture

Patriots have also apparently agreed to terms with Stephon Gilmore for big $$. BB has seen him twice per year for several years...I think this says something.

sonomaca's picture

The Packers need more speed, which might explain why they're willing to let Hyde go.

sonomaca's picture

Barwin released. Packers likely to try there.

dobber's picture

We'll see what he commands on the open market. I liked him much better as a trade option and then renegotiate his deal.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I liked him much better as a trade option and then NOT re-negotiating his contract. I loved the idea of getting Barwin with no guaranteed money. However, if you Dobber wanted more years (problematic in my view), and If Barwin wants some guaranteed money, he can lower his AAV, extend the years and lower the immediate cap hit. Otherwise, if you're going to renegotiate his contract anyway, why give up a draft pick too, even though I was only going to ship a 7th anyway?

Prefer no guaranteed money since his $7.75M cap hit is fine in 2017 . I'll worry about his $10M cap hit (I can't remember what it was) later.

Nick Perry's picture

That's right up Teds alley. A released player, no Comp Pick given up, sounds good to me. Could you imagine a LB corps of Perry, Barwin, and Matthews inside? I know it would help the CB's immensely!

JHitTheB's picture

8-2 WITH Cook in the lineup. 2-4 WITHOUT Cook in the lineup. Without Cook and Hyde, GB doesn't come close to catching Detroit for the division title or come close to the playoffs and they definitely do not advance past Dallas. PAY THE MAN. He earned it.

Ted Thompson needs to go. We've had Brett and Aaron manning the helm for the last 25 years...2 SB wins to show for it. Eli Manning has that. Someone needs to reach out and slap some sense into him. Seriously.

EDIT: MARTELLUS BENNETT EXPECTED TO SIGN WITH GB!!! I'd rather see that money being spent on some defensive studs but I'll take it.

DrealynWilliams's picture

We finally got 'em!

This will be as impactful as the Charles Woodson signing.

Let the dislikes fly...

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