This Dallas Cowboys playoff killer could be a potential free agent signing
The Dallas Cowboys could use a boost at their tight end position. Could this aging veteran be the answer to replacing Jason Witten’s lost production?
The Dallas Cowboys appeared to be a team of destiny in 2016. A legendary draft class introduced fans of America’s Team to quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, rookies chosen in that year’s draft.
The first-year duo of Prescott and Elliott led the Cowboys to an impressive 13-3 record including an amazing 11-game winning streak and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Facing the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round, Dallas found themselves down 21-3 midway through the second quarter.
Prescott would lead the Cowboys’ comeback, tying the game at 31-31 with only :35 seconds left in the fourth quarter. But Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers would soldier his team down the field, culminating with an incredible 36-yard pass completion to tight end Jared Cook on 3rd and 20 to set up a 51-yard game-winning field goal.
Cook ended the game with an eye-popping stat line of six receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. The then 29-year old and former third-round selection out of South Carolina back in 2009 was on his third team in Green Bay. And before becoming the Cowboys-killer in the postseason, Cook had only recorded a total of 30 catches for 377 yards and one score for the Packers in what turned out to be his lone season in Wisconsin.
For the past two years, Cook has been a key member of the Oakland Raiders’ offense. In fact, last season the 10-year tight end was the Raiders’ top receiving threat, leading Oakland in targets (101), receptions (68), receiving yards (896) and touchdowns (6). All of which were career-highs for the soon-to-be 32-year old.
Here’s what Michael Renner of the analytics website Pro Football Focus had to say about Cook defying his age last season and naming the veteran tight end one of his 10 immediate impact free agents.
"“The tight end market in free agency is slim pickings, but Cook proved quite clearly a season ago he still has a lot left in the tank. In fact, at 31 years old he put up a career year in Oakland. Cook set career highs for yards (896) and broken tackles (7).”"
The Dallas Cowboys have a stable of young tights on their current roster in players like Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. But their most consistent tight end, Geoff Swaim, has struggled with injuries and is scheduled to become a free agent himself next month. Adding a veteran like Jared Cook to the depth chart would give this team an immediate upgrade at the position without hurting the development of their younger prospects.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.