It may have taken some time, but the Green Bay Packers have signed a free agent and his name is Jared Cook.
Of course if you are a die-hard Packers fan such as I am, you probably have already heard this news. And yes, it’s true. You can stop rubbing your eyes, refreshing your screen and pinching yourself — Ted Thompson actually signed a veteran player of significance.
Yes, I am being a little sarcastic, but Ole’ Teddy boy hasn’t dipped into veteran free agency since Julius Peppers, so really it’s not an exaggeration. Yet, you got the feeling this year would be different and it certainly proved to be.
Mike McCarthy said before free agency even began that the Packers would surprise people. And while signing one player doesn’t really constitute a surprise in my book, it’s a move that could pay huge dividends down the road.
And it’s clear from some of the nuggets that have come out that the Packers believe Cook, can be an impact player as well. First of all, it was reported that the Packers actually offered him a contract last week, but Cook simply wanted to see what else the market had to offer before accepting.
This isn’t necessarily a big deal, it shows the Packers place a limit on Cook’s value, as well they should and that they aren’t willing to go beyond their price point, which they shouldn’t.
But, it also shows how much they liked him as a player. The $3.6 million dollars they gave him is also good evidence of that fact, as is the fact that Green Bay tried to trade for Cook at last season’s trade deadline, only to come up short in convincing the Rams to part with him.
It’s clear the Packers think plenty of Cook, it’s also clear that they plan to use him to attack the middle of the field, something he has excelled at during his career.
Now Cook is not without flaws. If he didn’t have flaws, he wouldn’t be on the market. But, he has averaged at least 11.9 yards per reception in each of his last six seasons. During that same time, he has averaged eight catches of more than 20 yards per season and has also caught at least 39 passes every year.
Cook has also been reliable. He never missed a game when he played for the Rams and at 28 years old, he’s still in the prime of his career.
Last season, the Packers needed someone with the ability to stretch the middle of the field, they just didn’t have anyone to do it. Cook will help in that regard and while he has been inconsistent at times throughout his career, he has also never played with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.
For his part, Rodgers has to be stoked. He hasn’t had a tight end like this since Jermichael Finley. The move allows the Packers to return Richard Rodgers to a more part-time role, while also giving their star quarterback, yet another weapon he can use to attack opposing defenses.
Cook has racked up more than 500 yards receiving four times during his career and with a chance to play in the Packers wide-open attack, where he will not be the focal point, the sky is suddenly the limit for him and what he can bring to Green Bay in 2016.