Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook’s contract is up this offseason. Throughout this season, Cook was quarterback Derek Carr’s only consistent target. He was also a valuable veteran presence to help head coach Jon Gruden instill his vision for the team. Though Cook poses a risk to offer a new contract due to his age, he is worth it, and should be brought back for at least one more season.
Re-Signing Jared Cook Should be a Priority for the Oakland Raiders
After signing a plethora of veteran players in the offseason, Oakland became a running joke around the league when head Gruden joked he was going to “throw the game back to 1998.” The team began the season starting most of the veterans while the younger talent took their time to get acclimated to the new staff’s complicated schemes. However, as the season wore on, more and veteran starters gave way to younger talent.
Oakland boasts three first-round picks this year, meaning it is likely that the team gets even younger next season. Cook has already been vocal about his support for the Gruden and the coaching staff, also saying he wants to return to the Raiders for another season. At the very least, Gruden could use the support from Cook to help get these young guys used to the pro game and the offensive scheme.
The Only Established Target for Derek Carr
Cook led the Raiders in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns. For a tight end to do that is saying something. Sure, Oakland went through a ton of turnover at wide receiver, but Cook was the only constant. The team traded former first-round pick Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys during the season and cut Michael Crabtree in the past offseason. It was only two years ago that the two became the first Raiders wide receiver duo to each eclipse 1,000 yards since Tim Brown and Jerry Rice.
Crabtree was replaced by Jordy Nelson, and though he was serviceable at times, his age showed. Nelson will be 34 by the time the season starts next year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Raiders move on from him before Nelson. Even if they don’t there is a good chance Oakland brings in some new, younger faces at wide receiver. This could mean Nelson struggles to see the field next year. It would not be a good idea to force Carr to have to get on the same page with a whole new receiving corps yet again.
Money Isn’t an Issue
After Cook’s great year, he will undoubtedly see some enticing offers from other teams around the league. Honestly, he is a prime candidate to be overpaid. Like Nelson, Cook is long-in-the-tooth. He will be 32 next season and has a chance to see his production drop off a cliff. Oakland will probably have to overpay to keep Cook and hope he can still make it through at least one more season. The best thing to do would be to offer him an incentive-laden, one-year contract. Cook’s last contract gave him about $5 million a year. They should try to lock him down for about the same amount due to his age.
It is not like the Raiders are strapped for cash either. As of now, they have the fifth-most cap space in the league with over $77 million available. Although Gruden likes to boast that players are blowing up his phone to come play for the Raiders, they probably won’t be this year. With the city of Oakland suing the Raiders, and effectively running them out of town, the team doesn’t even know where they will play this year. Any big-money name is going to want a multi-year contract and some stability. They don’t want to have to move their entire life and family to a new city for a year, only to move yet again the following year when Oakland is set to finally arrive in Las Vegas.
Last Word on the Raiders Re-Signing Jared Cook
After Jon Gruden came in and blew up the entire team this year, Cook was one of the last players from the old regime left standing. This was because he bought into the system and became Carr’s go-to guy with the football. Next season isn’t looking much better for bringing in new targets for Carr to throw the ball to either. The Raiders may have to take a risk that they overpay Cook due to his age, but they have plenty of cap space to do so. Give the man at least one more year with the Silver and Black
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