The New England Patriots just lost a Hall of Fame tight end with Rob Gronkowski retiring, but they may get a second chance at the top free agent tight end of this offseason.
Gronkowski ended weeks of speculation and announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, bringing an end to a brilliant, but injury-shortened career. There had been speculation dating back to last year that Gronkowski was considering retirement as he struggled to fully recover from a series of major injuries, and the Patriots may have already been on the lookout for his replacement.
As Pro Football Talk reported, the Patriots had been in heavy pursuit of former Raiders tight end Jared Cook before he ultimately chose to sign with the New Orleans Saints. The 31-year-old Cook is coming off his best season in the NFL, catching 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns in an otherwise stagnant Raiders offense.
Possibly sensing that Gronkowski was ready to retire, the Patriots had “aggressively courted” Cook this offseason, Mike Reiss of ESPN reported, but lost out when he picked the Saints.
But there is still a chance that the Patriots could make a play for Cook, as he has yet to officially sign with the Saints, Pro Football Talk noted.
“And it still may not be too late to get Cook. Despite multiple reports that a deal is close and comments from Cook talking about catching passes from Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Cook still hasn’t officially signed with the Saints. Until he does, Cook remains potentially in play,” the report noted.
Either team would likely be a good destination for a tight end looking to make the most of his remaining time in the league. Cook is actually a full year older than Gronkowski, whose time in the NFL was shortened by injury, but Cook has come on late in his career. Joining the New England Patriots would allow him to immediately be a top pass-catching target for a team that has a very thin receiving corps, and the Patriots are built to make the most of the remaining years of Tom Brady’s career.
Patriots reportedly made a run at TE Jared Cook before he picked the Saints (and given that he has yet to officially join the Saints, maybe the Pats could still get him) https://t.co/8xjDj0Ayrz
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 24, 2019
New Orleans would likely be an enticing destination as well, as the Saints had one of the league’s top offenses and would allow Cook to play with another Hall of Fame-bound quarterback in Drew Brees.
There is not yet an indication of whether the New England Patriots would actively try to lure Jared Cook away from the New Orleans Saints, however.