The New Orleans Saints added veteran tight end Jared Cook as a free agent during the 2019 offseason. The goal was to upgrade the wanting production at the position since trading TE Jimmy Graham in 2015.
Cook caught 43 passes for 705 yards and 9 touchdowns last season, earning the second Pro Bowl bid of his 11-year career.
He was second on the team in receiving yardage, tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions, and led New Orleans with a 16.4 yard/catch average.
Cook, 33, entered his 12th NFL season and second with New Orleans in 2020, hoping to be a more significant part of the offense. Today, I will give my Saints Year-in-Review spotlight on tight end Jared Cook.
Cook started the season on a high note, pulling in five of his seven targets for a game-high 80 yards in a season-opening win over the Buccaneers. He was extremely productive over the first half of the year, catching 21 passes for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first seven games.
After mid-season, Cook's production slowed, where he caught just one pass for a three game stretch between Weeks 10 and 12. He became more productive in the final stretch by averaging four catches per game and scoring three touchdowns. During that stretch, Cook had a season-high 82 yards in a Christmas Day victory over the Vikings.
Cook finished with 37 receptions for 504 yards and a team-high 7 touchdowns. All of his stats were significantly lower than in 2019. He was still the offense’s most consistent option down the field this year, and he averaged 13.6 yards per catch.
Despite a rash of injuries to the New Orleans wide receivers, Cook failed to step up to be a consistent offensive threat and often disappeared for long stretches. In the 3rd quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff round against the Buccaneers, he had a critical fumble that led to a game-tying touchdown during the Saints postseason loss.
Cook will be an unrestricted free agent. New Orleans will unlikely re-sign him in the offseason given his high salary expectations and TE Adam Trautman's addition in last spring's draft. After a promising start to his New Orleans career, Cook’s legacy with the franchise will be inconsistent production, unfulfilled expectations, and one costly postseason fumble.