I have a question for you. Do you know what player holds the single game receiving yard record for a tight end for the Rams, Titans, and Raiders? He also happened to make one of the most clutch catches in Packer history. I’m of course referring to Jared Cook if you didn’t guess. Counting the playoffs, Cook saw the field in 13 games in his lone season as a Packer. The team didn’t re-sign him when the 2016 season ended, moving on to Martellus Bennett instead. Now we have Jimmy Graham. It’s hard to be upset about the present state of the tight end position in Green Bay, but Jared Cook’s success in Oakland last year and last weekend force us to wonder what might have been.
Let me give you a quick synopsis of Jared Cook’s career in Green Bay. He was cut by the Rams before signing with the Packers. He was hurt after the first three games, missing seven weeks, including the bye. He returned in Week 11 and was on the field for the duration of the “run the table” season. His regular season numbers were unimpressive, he only had 377 yards and a touchdown on 30 catches, his worst season since 2010 with Tennessee. He came on strong in the post-season however, racking up 229 yards and two touchdowns, including a 103 yard performance capped by his toe-dragging miracle against Dallas to send the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.

Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook complete a miracle pass and catch to beat the Cowboys.
Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook complete a miracle pass and catch to beat the Cowboys.
After the 2016 season, Rodgers made clear he thought the Packers needed to reload rather than rebuild, and he was vocal about wanting Jared Cook back. Ted Thompson, caring not for the advice (plea?) of others, let Cook walk, saying the tight end’s asking price was too high. Instead, Thompson handed out a three-year, $21 million contract to Martellus Bennett while Cook signed a cheaper, two-year, $10.2 million deal with Oakland. I’m ashamed to say it now, but I liked the deal at the time, thinking Bennett an improvement. Since then, however, Bennett quit on the team midseason and was cut, while Cook has returned to form in Oakland. Last season, Jared put up 688 yards and two touchdowns on 54 catches.
The arrival of Brian Gutekunst brought more change to the tight end position in Green Bay. After releasing Jordy Nelson, Gutekunst signed former All-Pro Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal. Jordy followed the path of Cook, signing with the Raiders for two-years, $14.2 million. After the Jordy deal was signed, reports came out that he would’ve taken even less to stay in Green Bay, which is what raises perhaps the most painful point. Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson could both be Packers for the same price as we’re currently paying Jimmy Graham.
Now one week into the 2018 season, Cook just had the best game of his career, going for 180 yards on nine catches for the Raiders on Monday Night Football. Graham? He had two catches for eight yards in Week 1. Keep in mind, both Cook and Graham are 31 years old, Graham is actually six months older. I don’t mean this as a condemnation of the Graham signing or the Jordy release. It’s only been one game, and Graham may well prove to be a dominant force at the position as the season wears on. But the point still stands. How would the offense look if everything was the same, but we had Cook instead of Graham and Nelson to round off a group of four contributing wide receivers?
Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson while with the Packers.
Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson while with the Packers.
In the long run, maybe none of it matters. But for Packer fans who watched the 2017 season turn to dust, how different might things have been if a contributing tight end had been their to aid Brett Hundley in close fought games against the Saints in the Steelers. One more contributor on offense could’ve been the difference, and pulling out those games maybe sneaks Green Bay into the playoffs. Dom Capers got fired and we got a new GM who certainly looks to be the real deal so far, so maybe it’s all been for the best. That being said, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been.

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