Greg Olsen’s departure two years ago left the Chicago Bears with a bare cupboard at the tight end position. With a new (and non-TE-phobic) offensive coordinator in town, Chicago also might have an opportunity to replace at least some of Olsen’s much-missed production.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears are expected to make a serious push to sign free agent Jared Cook away from the Tennessee Titans. Cook was one of the few players who had been rumored as likely franchise-tag targets who was not, in fact, locked up by his incumbent team.
Although the Titans themselves and other clubs are sure to be in the mix for the Cook, he has so much going for him that Chicago has to make every effort to bring him in. The Bears don’t have much cap space of their own after franchising Henry Melton, but it’s not impossible that Julius Peppers or Jay Cutler could agree to some contract restructuring for the good of the team.
Adding the athletic Cook would unquestionably be for the good of the team, because he has more promise as a receiver than all the Bears TEs put together (not to mention a few of the wideouts). At 6’5”, 246 lbs, Cook runs the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, meaning that he can help stretch defenses in addition to serving as another red-zone target.
The 25-year-old Cook put up solid numbers with the Titans a year ago, catching 44 balls for 523 yards and four scores. Those figures get even more impressive when you consider that Cook was sharing time with fullback Craig Stevens, and that Tennessee didn’t exactly get prime quarterback play last season.
If Cook turns out to be excessively expensive, there’s still hope for an upgrade at tight end. Other free agents (notably Brandon Myers of Oakland and Dustin Keller of the Jets) would still be improvements over the team’s current options, as would potential draftees such as local favorite Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.
Still, with plenty of other needs to fill through the draft (especially along the offensive line), adding a prime pass-catcher through free agency would be a huge boost to the Bear attack. Cook may prove to be out of Chicago’s price range, but the team should make sure it scrapes together every last nickel before giving up on him.