After weeks of speculation on who would win the Jared Cook sweepstakes, the Rams turned out to be the big winners after signing Cook to a 5-year deal a mere hours after free agency began Tuesday afternoon. The move not only reunites Cook with his former head coach Jeff Fisher when both were in Tennessee, but the signing also gets Cook away from a team who clearly underutilized him in the passing game last year. Not to mention Sam Bradford is a huge upgrade over the inconsistencies that have plagued Jake Locker in 2012.
Update: Scout.com reports Cook's contract has a maximum value of $38.5 million and includes $19 million guaranteed.
With both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson on their way out, as they line up visits with other teams, Cook automatically becomes a much-needed target in the passing game. With Steven Jackson gone, Cook is now part of one of the youngest offenses in the league. Brian Quick and Chris Givens are entering their sophomore years and Sam Bradford is still only 25. The acquisition of Cook will allow such a young team to grow together. Lets hope that pays dividends down the road.
While Phil had listed the Rams as one of Cook's potential destinations, he made a good point that incumbent starter Lance Kendricks made strides as a blocker, but clearly didn't provide that safety net the Rams coaching staff had hoped for. Kendricks did average a very healthy 12.5 yards per catch between 2011 and 2012, but his 67 total receptions were a good gauge as to how little he was used in the passing game. The team needs a chain mover. Kendricks clearly wasn't that guy. I can see Cook breaking that 67-catch mark in 2013 alone.
So what about Cook's fantasy potential? Cook was on the cusp of TE1 stardom, but the Titans offense and shaky quarterback play stunted his development throughout his career. I see Cook, as of now, as a borderline TE1. He's too good to rank any lower. Fisher will make sure Cook has plenty of opportunities. Especially with the money the team shelled out. As the spring and summer months roll by, it wouldn't shock me to see people start pushing him up as a top-10 option. Maybe even higher. His ceiling is that high. He should break his career marks in all receiving categories. And if the team's receivers can make a jump and show early promise, the skies the limit for Cook's value going forward.