The Oakland Raiders had a lot of issues on both sides of the ball in 2018, but the tight end position certainly was not one of them.
After a 4-12 2018 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders have a pretty big offseason ahead of them. Not only do they hold three first round picks this April, but they also have 33 players entering some sort of free agency, so first-year general manager Mike Mayock has his work cut out for him.
One of those free agents is Jared Cook, who has seen his career turn in the positive direction since putting on the Silver and Black. He has become the pass-catching threat that many scouts predicted he would become, and has helped this Raiders offense when there were not many weapons to throw to.
While most of the team struggled in 2018, the tight end position did not, as the group of Cook, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier, and Darren Waller all stepped up big time. It was a position of strength for Oakland, and should remain so in 2019.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the Raiders had two of the top-5 highest graded tight ends in the AFC West in 2018. Smith was the No. 2 graded tight end in the division, with Cook coming in right behind him at No. 3.
The only tight end graded higher than the Raiders two players was Travis Kelce, who went to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Incredibly, Antonio Gates was graded out as the No. 4 tight end in the division last season, after coming out of retirement for another go around with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Heading into the offseason, Cook is going to be a free agent, and the team has to make bringing him back a priority. He has been the security blanket for Derek Carr over the past two seasons, leading the Raiders in receiving yards in each of those campaigns, and you have to think he is a crucial piece to this offense moving forward.
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