The Detroit Lions haven’t been secretive about their interest in a tight end this offseason. In both public press conferences in 2017, Bob Quinn mentioned the importance of a good blocking tight end to improve a team’s running game. That is a position the Lions are clearly lacking and it should come as no surprise that the Lions are seeking to fix that roster hole.
According to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, one player they are pursuing is Packers TE Jared Cook:
As Packers TE Jared Cook approaches the start of free agency, the Lions and Bills are showing the most interest, sources say.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 9, 2017
Cook is an interesting name out there because he’s not exactly the blocking-specific tight end that many believed the Lions would be seeking. He isn’t bad at blocking per se—he rated well above average in both pass blocking and run blocking per PFF—he just isn’t asked to do it much. Last season with the Packers, Cook spent well less than half of his snaps blocking (141 of 478). Green Bay much preferred to have Cook out there running routes as a receiver. As a result, Cook hauled in 30 catches for 377 yards and a touchdown in 2016.
Throughout his career, Cook has mostly thrived as a receiver. His best year (2013) he caught 51 passes for 671 yards and five touchdowns. His production has slowly declined, and at 29 years old, Cook may be ready to transition to a more blocking-heavy role.
Even if he’s not, Cook would provide at least some decent depth behind Eric Ebron. Detroit currently has Cole Wick, Kennard Backman and Khari Lee behind Ebron, and Cook could provide a good option should Ebron suffer an injury.