ALAMEDA — When tight end Jared Cook arrived in Oakland for a free-agent visit, the Raiders had plenty of selling points to lure him onto the team with a dynamic offense on an up-and-coming franchise.
A film session with quarterback Derek Carr proved to be the final straw to get Cook to sign a two-year deal with the Raiders on Thursday.
“Love the kid, man. He’s cool,” Cook said. “He’s a real down to earth guy. I enjoy talking with him about the offensive system and different plays that they run and how they see me fitting in this offense.”
Cook helps upgrade a position group that already includes Clive Walford and Lee Smith as the Raiders look to build on last season’s 12-4 record that ended a 13-year playoff drought.
Walford’s development has been slowed by offseason injuries during his two years in the NFL and he has 61 catches for 688 yards and six TDs in his career. Smith is one of the league’s best blocking tight ends and is coming back from a broken leg.
“Just another weapon for Derek to use,” Cook said about his role. “Just to be able to stretch the field, be able to beat one-on-one matchups, be able to get down into the secondary at a fast pace, be able to create separation off of different routes. When I’m coming out of my breaks, just a different radius that it gives him. A different element to put the ball in places and just keep chains moving.”
Cook had 30 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown last season when he missed six games with an ankle injury. His biggest play came on a 36-yard catch that set up a last-second, game-winning field goal in Green Bay’s 34-31 playoff win over Dallas. Cook had 18 catches for 229 yards and two scores in three playoff games.
“I probably hear about it every day,” he said. “It was such a huge catch in a huge moment and to keep our hopes alive in the playoffs last year. I hear about it in the grocery store, in the airport, at the playground from some little kids. You constantly hear about it.”
Despite not having prolific numbers last season, Cook was a major catalyst for Green Bay’s offense. Aaron Rodgers had 31 touchdowns and two interceptions in 13 games, including the playoffs, with Cook in the lineup compared to 15 TD passes and six interceptions in six games when he was out.
In eight NFL seasons with Tennessee, St. Louis and Green Bay, Cook has 303 catches for 3,880 yards and 17 TDs.
NFL Network first reported the deal with Cook and said it is worth $12.2 million over two years with $5 million guaranteed in the first year.
Cook is the third offensive player the Raiders have added this offseason following receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse. Oakland could have another hole at running back after starter Latavius Murray left to sign with Minnesota.
Cook said he thought former Vikings star Adrian Peterson would be a perfect replacement because of his aggressive running style.
“I feel like he fits the description of a Raider, and I think he’d fit in perfect here,” Cook said. “To see him in a Raiders jersey, I think would be pretty awesome.”
The Raiders went into free agency with more glaring needs on defense, but those have not been filled as of yet. Oakland also met this week with free agent linebacker Zach Brown, but he announced on Twitter that he left town without signing a contract.