Contract Year Players: Golden Tate and Jared Cook – by Joshua Deisinger

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

At 30 years of age most NFL receivers are on their last contract, yet here we find a guy who has proven successful for the last 4 years and is out to prove that he deserves another contract.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Golden Tate will perform in 2018, to the level that proves he should receive the contract he’s looking for.  After all, within the last 5 months – Michael Crabtree (30 yrs. old) and Jordy Nelson (32 yrs. old) both received contracts worth nearly $15 million a year.

When looking at what Golden Tate has done over the course of his career, he has quietly been impressive, to say the least.  Coming over from the Seattle Seahawks, one could claim he was underutilized – as not once did he receive 100 targets in a single season (with Matt Hasselbeck, Travaris Jackson, and Russell Wilson), to playing with Matthew Stafford where he hasn’t received less than 120 targets in a single season.  Since 2014 Tate has averaged 93 receptions on 131.8 targets for a completion percentage of (%71 when being targeted) and 1,063.5 yards along with 4.8 touchdownsThat’s an average PPR total of 228.1 Points per year, good enough for back end WR1 top end WR2 numbers.  He most recently finished right behind fellow Lions Receiver, Marvin Jones in 2017 at WR 13 Overall (224.5 PPR).

Since coming to the Motor City, Golden Tate has played second fiddle to another receiver once (2015), and that was future HOF WR Calvin Johnson.  Numbers never lie, but the context can be misleading and in the sense of Marvin Jones outperforming Golden Tate in 2017, it’s a situation of context confusion.  Yes, Jones scored a few more fantasy points, but did so with the long ball and scored more with 13 fewer targets.  Also, it needs to be understood that Detroit has had a 3-year decline in passing attempts each year, with 632 in 2015, 594 in 2016, and 570 in 2017.  Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has tried to put an emphasis on improving the Lions run game, and the rush to pass play ration shows this trend.

Just like Le’Veon Bell’s situation in Pittsburgh, I think Tate will be somewhere else in 2019, and I expect Detroit to feature him heavily this year.  Golden Tate will be the number 1 for Detroit again in 2018 and he’s out to prove he deserves another contract.  Buy in all league formats, with consideration for trying to flip him in Dynasty towards the trade deadline in 2018.

Photo Credit: Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports

Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders

Not often is a 10-year veteran Tight End a relevant conversation piece, but it’s also not often that an athlete of Jared Cook’s caliber is on a contract year. Cook was in the 97th percentile at his position when measuring his 40-yard dash time, speed score, burst score, and catching radius.  The only category that Jared scored low in, was his agility score – but you can chalk that when you consider he’s 6’5” and about 250lbs.

Cook entered the NFL as a mid-3rd round draft selection (89th overall) in the 2009 NFL draft and during his 4-year rookie contract with the Titans, Cook played in 59 of a possible 64 games and started 11 times.  He amassed 1,717 yards and 8 touchdowns playing mostly as a backup and carried a 61% target to reception percentage.  Jared walked after his rookie contract expired in Tennessee and followed his former Head Coach, Jeff Fisher, when he signed with the St. Louis Rams.  Jared would play out a 3-year stint with the Rams and produced the same statistics with one less season as he did in Tennessee.  Cook tallied 1,786 yards and 8 touchdowns from 142 receptions but saw a dip in his efficiency with only a 55% reception to target percentage.

 

Jared Cook
Photo Credit: Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

 

I was ecstatic when Jared signed with Green Bay and envisioned a 10 plus TD season when paired with Aaron Rodgers.  Alas, Jared dealt with an injury right out of the gate and only played in 10 regular season games with the Packers and started only 5 of those. He finished the regular season with just 30 catches and 377 yards and a lone touchdown.  However, Jared would see his first career playoff games and was terrific.  Green Bay would finish the 2016 season just short of a Super Bowl appearance, with an NFC Championship loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  In a 3-game playoff stretch with the Packers, Jared Cook averaged 6 receptions and 76 yards per game and found the end zone twice.

Understanding that this is ultimately a business, my excitement was short lived as Jared would sign with Oakland because Green Bay chose to not retain him.

The big target machine was back to his old self last year, starting all 16 games and was a favorite of Derek Carr’s in the Raider passing attack.  Cook had 4-year highs in targets (86), receptions (54), yards (688), and reception percentage (63%) as a member of the Silver and Black.

All of this considered, you need to envision what should, and could happen in Oakland this coming year, and look at samples from the past 14 years, and the offenses that Offensive Coordinator, Greg Olson has been involved in:

 

Year Team Head Coach Position Olson Held TE Position Stats
2004 Detroit Lions Steve Mariucci OC & QB Coach 51/480/1
2008* Tampa Bay Buccanneers* Jon Gruden* OC & QB Coach 72/794/5*
2012 Jacksonville Jaguars Mike Mularkey Asst. HC & QB Coach 52/540/4
2016 Jacksonville Jaguars Doug Marrone OC 81/721/6

The average fantasy statistical production from the Tight End position group, within Greg Olson’s offenses is; 64 receptions, 634 yards, and 4 touchdowns which would have been a 2017 TE 8/9 finish, right between Kyle Rudolph and Jason Witten.

Jared Cook has the ability, he has a very competent Quarterback (whom people forget was an MVP candidate in 2016 in Derek Carr), the right offense to be a focal point, and a solid path to be the number 2 target in the offense (Amari Cooper).  Oh, and one more thing, he’s playing for a contract.  Re-draft ADP in 2018 is a paltry TE16 and overall 182.  Good luck in your drafts!

by Josh Deisinger – @SconnieJosh

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