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Raiders have one Pro Bowler this season and letting him go would be a huge mistake

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Tight end Jared Cook was the only Oakland Raiders’ skill-position player worth the price of admission in 2018 so they must bring him back.

NFL: International Series-Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to have to wait until next year to see the kind of impact Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden will have on quarterback Derek Carr. But one player we can already see thriving in Gruden’s offense is tight end Jared Cook whose career year earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He’s also headed for free agency.

The 10-year veteran was a journeyman tight end when he came to the Raiders in 2017. He started to get the trust of Carr to the tune of a then career-high of 54 catches that went for 688 yards and two touchdowns. And in 2018 he again took his game to another level with 68 catches for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The 31-year-old really showed he still has some of the speed that had him run a 4.4 40-yard dash at the 2009 combine to go along with great hands and route-running.

Those are the traits of a No. 1 receiver that Gruden quickly recognized and made Cook a focal point in the offense, putting him in position for 9 catches for 180 yards against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 — the first of four 100-yard games for Cook in 2018.

Letting that kind of production walk away in free agency would be a mistake, not to mention opening a hole on a team that already has holes at most positions.

You never know with Gruden but he did express Cook’s value this season and that he hopes to bring back the free agent.

“Jared was awesome,” Gruden said back in December. “He clearly is our MVP. In my opinion, he is phenomenal.

“This guy has been dazzling as a receiver. We’ve been able to put him in so many different positions – in the slot, at wide receiver. His conditioning, his stamina, his competitiveness, his running after the catch. I’m really excited about the season he’s had. Hopefully we get him back.”

Gruden also expressed his desire to have Cook back on the team at the Senior Bowl.

He has to be the No. 1 priority among Raiders free agents to re-sign, right?

Poll

What should the Raiders do with Jared Cook?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Re-sign him
    (551 votes)
  • 4%
    Let him walk and use a high draft pick on a tight end
    (25 votes)
576 votes total Vote Now