Happy New Year! The Detroit Lions started the new year by signing a new quarterback to the team in the hopes he can compete for a roster spot in 2019. It already looked sour for former developmental backup Jake Rudock when the Lions did not sign him to a futures deal when given the opportunity to do so, but now that they’re officially bringing in new blood we can probably close the book on the former sixth rounder out of Michigan. The signing of Connor Cook to a futures deal likely isn’t the only move the team makes at quarterback for 2019, but it’s a start.
Connor Cook was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of 2016. 100th overall was far lower than many had projected him as he was being looked at as a potential first or second round pick for much of the draft process. His slide was attributed at the time to some character concerns regarding his ability to lead a team, but considering how his NFL career has gone up to this point it’s just as likely, if not more so, that his perceived talent was simply higher among the media than it was among NFL teams.
Cook has only seen game action twice in the NFL, but he holds the distinction of being the only quarterback in NFL history whose first start was in the postseason, starting the Raiders’ 2016 playoff game against the Houston Texans. The Raiders would go on to lose that game, with Cook completing only 18 of 45 passes for a single touchdown with three interceptions. He would lose his backup spot in 2017 to former first-round pick EJ Manuel, then would later be cut after the Raiders traded for AJ McCarron. With his Raiders career ended by a duo of guys who go by their initials, Cook would spend time on the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals practice squads in 2018.
The Detroit Lions now have two quarterbacks under contract for 2019, Matthew Stafford and Connor Cook. They have not re-signed backup Matt Cassel, but I wouldn’t rule out the veteran’s return should they decide to have a veteran presence in camp. Jake Rudock may still find his feet for an NFL team, but at this point he is one of only two practice squad quarterbacks who have not signed a futures deal with an NFL team. The other, Nathan Peterman, tried out with the Lions before ultimately landing with Jon Gruden and the Raiders near the end of the 2018 season.