Patriots reportedly showing interest in free-agent tight end Jared Cook

CARSON, CA - OCTOBER 07: Tight end Jared Cook of the Oakland Raiders makes a catch out-of-bounds in front of defensive back Adrian Phillips of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at StubHub Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - OCTOBER 07: Tight end Jared Cook of the Oakland Raiders makes a catch out-of-bounds in front of defensive back Adrian Phillips of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at StubHub Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots appear to be checking in on perhaps the top available tight end. Just as NFL free agency kicked off after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport said on the NFL Network (via Evan Lazar) that the Patriots are kicking the tires on Raiders TE Jared Cook.

Oakland got a career year out of Cook in 2018, as the 31-year-old caught 68 passes for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns - all career highs. Cook easily outperformed Rob Gronkowski's 42-682-3 line as a receiver and was named to the Pro Bowl.

The Patriots' apparent interest in Cook indicates that they're seeking an insurance policy for a pass-catching tight end in the event that Gronkowski ultimately decides to retire. Recent reports suggest that Gronk may take a while to make a decision. The Pats are tentatively preparing for him to be back, but it's obviously prudent for them to know every available option.

Clearly, Bill Belichick doesn't want to be left in the lurch while he waits for Gronk to stay or go. And even with Gronkowski back in the fold, Tom Brady would suddenly have a good tight end duo to throw to after a down year at the position offensively.

Cook would be a legitimate upgrade over the departed Dwayne Allen in the passing game, for sure. He's one of the Sports Hub's top-50 free agents as the 2019 league year kicks off.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].