Best Free-Agent Tight End Option: Cook or Rudolph?

Should the Detroit Lions pursue tights ends Kyle Rudolph or Jared Cook in free agency?

As free agency quickly approaches, the Detroit Lions will have plenty of options to look at. 

One position that could be a sneaky need is tight end. 

Ex-Lions general manager Bob Quinn gave tight end Jesse James a big free-agent contract a couple of year ago, and he has been a massive disappointment. 

This is the first year of his deal that the Lions could actually save money by releasing him. Cutting him will incur $4.3 million in dead cap, but it will also save the Lions a little over $2 million and will allow the Lions to get out from the contract with three years remaining on his deal.

So, that leaves the Lions with a possible hole behind Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson

Second-year player Hunter Bryant is a developing option, as more of a pass-catcher. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add some depth. 

Some recent players to hit the open market are former New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook and long-time Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph.

Considering Cook played under Lions head coach Dan Campbell -- who was a tight ends coach with the Saints -- the connection is there. 

Cook is not much of a run blocker, yet has been one of the best pure receiving threats at the position. However, at almost 34 years old, the athletic Cook is slowing down.


Meanwhile, Rudolph is also on the decline at 31 years old. He was essentially supplanted in Minnesota due to the emergence of Irv Smith.

It’s fair to say that Rudolph is a little more well-rounded than Cook, but is not nearly as productive catching the football.

While both tight ends carry a familiar name, the only way the Lions would likely sign either is if they come cheap. 

With both being north of 30, neither will secure a long-term contract. 

At the end of the day, the Lions already have their starter at tight end, and aren't in the best cap situation for 2021. 

Overpaying for a long-in-the-tooth backup would not be a great idea. As always, though, it'll come down to the price tag. 

Given the familiarity, signing Cook to a short-term agreement may be the likely occurrence, but it would not be surprising if Detroit simply passed on both. 

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