During Ted Thompson’s time as Green Bay Packers general manager, the organization has resisted free agency. Yet, it has not be completely ignored it and when needed, Ted has not been afraid to pull the trigger.
Thompson signed Ryan Pickett, Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson once upon a time. Now, it’s time for Thompson to try and solve another issue in free agency — and that’s tight end and the lack of big plays coming from that position.
Last season, the Packers were woeful at tight end. Sure, Richard Rodgers caught that Hail-Mary pass to beat Detroit, had over 500 yards receiving and caught eight touchdowns, but overall, he was nothing but average.
And slow. Really slow.
Whenever you watch him play, it seems like he is simply incapable of breaking a tackle or making someone miss. His run-after-the-catch skills have got to be among the worst in pro football. He averaged 8.8 yards per catch. Imagine what that number would be without that 60-some yard touchdown to beat the Lions.
I still like Rodgers and think he is a decent backup because he can block adequately and has great hands, which come in handy in the red zone.
But the Packers need a play-maker at tight end or at least someone that can stretch the field and that’s where Jared Cook comes in.
The Packers aren’t normally active in free agency, but recently, head coach Mike McCarthy said that the Packers “might shock you” this year when it comes to signing veteran players.
Maybe that means they will take a more aggressive approach. Yet, even if they do, they are likely to chase players that have been cut as opposed to players that are unrestricted free agents.
Green Bay relies heavily on the compensatory selections that are awarded to a team that loses a free agent to another team and does not replace him with another via free agency. Last year, both Tramon Williams and Davon House left Green Bay in free agency and because the Packers didn’t sign anyone to replace them, they will likely receive two draft picks in rounds 4-7 because of it.
Now you might be thinking, well if Ted gets draft picks for not signing free agents, he will never sign one! Well there is one loophole of sorts.
If a player is cut and a team signs him, he does not count towards determining compensatory draft selections, just like Julius Peppers didn’t two years ago, when the Packers signed him after he was cut by the Chicago Bears.
That’s why I believe the Packers could realistically target and sign a player like Cook, who had 39 receptions for 481 yards last season.
Now, I am not saying that Cook is a Pro Bowler. He’s flawed. He drops too many passes and has been inconsistent. Yet, he also has NEVER had a good quarterback and if you give Aaron Rodgers a player like Cook, who can absolutely fly in the middle of the field, he could make him an instant threat.
Last season, Cook had a drop off in production, but he exceed 500 yards in four straight seasons before 2015 and caught 15 touchdowns. He also has a career yards per catch average of 12.8 and in his last five season, his worst yards per catch average was 11.9 back in 2012.
The Packers passing game really struggled last season and without Jordy Nelson, it struggled to produce big plays. Cook can help with that and with all the weapons Green Bay has already, he will see plenty of man-to-man coverage. That would open the field and help churn more of the big plays needed to score points consistently.
Cook is 28, but he has played 16 games in each of the past three seasons. I also don’t believe that the Packers would have to break the bank in order to sign him. So to me, he is the perfect Packers kind of free agent. Moderately cheap, but still pretty effective.
McCarthy hinted that the Packers were going to be more aggressive this year in free agency and if that’s really true, Cook is a player that should get Green Bay’s attention.