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

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

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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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