Photo via cbssports.comYes folks that was indeed a pig you saw flying. At least some of you saw one flying. The rest of us know it is business as usual. Packers General Manager Ted Thompson decided to stop kicking the tires and sign former St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams Tight End Jared Cook. This marks the first time in two years Thompson has signed a free agent from a different squad than his own. For some this is a welcome move. Finally some activity in free agency! For others this isn’t the free agency splash needed or wanted. Why has this Jared Cook signing been so polarizing amongst Packers faithful? What does Thompson see in Cook? It’s time to look at the good and the bad.
“To have a successful passing game you have to have big targets that can turn through the middle of the field.” These are the words of Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy back in January. His GM listened. Cook is 6’5”, long, rangy, and has speed. With Jordy Nelson returning from a season-ending ACL tear, you could have two targets who can stretch the field. This would also open up more space underneath for the likes of Randall Cobb and others.
This is a smart deal. Since Cook was released by the Rams, Thompson does not lose any of the draft picks he so covets by signing Cook. This will allow the Packers to address other glaring needs such as Inside Linebacker. It causes no negative effect on the draft and develop scheme.
Thompson understands the risk involved with signing Cook. He’s a TE with untapped potential, who hasn’t had a good quarterback (other than Sam Bradford for what it’s worth) throw him the ball. Hence the reason for the one year deal. Cook has a year to prove himself or he’s out the door for a relatively low price. Conventional wisdom would tell you a TE with his skill set, playing with the best QB in the world, will do some damage this season.
In addition to McCarthy wanting “big targets”, he also wants guys who will… show up! Cook is coming off a season in which he had 39 receptions, 481 yards, and 0 touchdowns. I repeat, 0 touchdowns! The incumbent TE Richard Rodgers would disappear in games, but even he posted 8 TDs last season.
With the total elimination of the chop block throughout the NFL, (teams found loopholes to get around the already illegal chop block to help blockers in the running game) the TE is going to have to be more of a factor in blocking for running backs. Jeremy Bowen of archcitysports.com wrote about this last October; “Cook is an awful blocker. He doesn’t attack blockers, avoids contact, and doesn’t stay on blocks.” The tape doesn’t lie. Atrocious.
Thompson understands the risk involved with signing Cook. He’s a long, rangy, speedy TE, with untapped potential, who’s never had a real QB throw him the ball. Cook is also a guy who was cut by the Tennessee Titans, released by the Rams, under performed with both of those squads, is a horrible blocker, and worst of all, has a horrible attitude. Google Jared Cook vs. Austin Davis and you’ll see what I mean. That kind of behavior is of no use on any team.
This is the same ole Ted. He will take a calculated risk on an outcast player, other teams have given up on. (Charles Woodson or Julius Peppers anyone?) So as much as people want to hate this move, you really can’t. The potential is there for it work. As has many of Ted Thompson’s free agency signings. His own or otherwise. Is Cook a risk? Yes. But he’s a one year risk. If this doesn’t work, don’t let the door hit you Jared. If this does work, there’s a chance the 30 point per game offense from two season ago returns. Happy days are here again!
Thompson’s moves in free agency will always be scrutinized whether they work out or not. I guess he can’t win for losing.