Wed Mar 27 2:39pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
In this July 18, 2018, file photo, Oakland Raiders NFL football tight end Jared Cook gives a television interview in Chiswick, west London. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says 2018 Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook has agreed to the terms of a free-agent contract with New Orleans. The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Cook is a 10-year veteran coming off his best season yet. He caught 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns with Oakland last season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens, File)
In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook (87) makes a catch against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, in Glendale, Ariz. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says 2018 Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook has agreed to the terms of a free-agent contract with New Orleans. The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Cook is a 10-year veteran coming off his best season yet. He caught 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns with Oakland last season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time.(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Moving from Oakland to New Orleans was as much a personal choice as a professional one for 2018 Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook.
''Location. Quarterback. Offense,'' Cook began. ''It's important that at this point in my career - I think it's awesome - that I'm closer to home. Drew Brees is a great quarterback, approaches the game like true vet and like a true perfectionist. He does all the little thigs right.
''I also have a chance to come in right now and make an impact,'' Cook added Wednesday, a day after formally agreeing to a reported two-year, $15.5 million free-agent contract with New Orleans. ''I have an opportunity to come in and be a huge part of a prolific and high-powered offense.''
Cook complimented the Raiders for the way they played to his strengths and helped him have the best campaign of his 10-year career last season. He knew there were inherent risks in leaving a good situation. But he said those risks were mitigated considerably by what New Orleans had to offer.
The Saints have been among NFL leaders in offense since coach Sean Payton began designing the plays and Brees began executing them back in 2006. There have been some seasons, particularly while Jimmy Graham was on the roster, when the tight end position accounted for a significant portion of the passing offense.
But that did not happen for the Saints' eighth-ranked offense last season. Three tight ends - Ben Watson, Josh Hill and Dan Arnold - combined for 63 catches for 735 yards and four touchdowns. And Watson, who led the position group with 35 catches for 400 yards and two TDs, has retired.
The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Cook caught 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns with Oakland last season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
''The last few years I've been able to kind of learn under one offense, play with one quarterback, get to know that one quarterback pretty well,'' Cook said. ''That's been the biggest different in the transition of my career as of late - and they actually used me what I'm good at.''
Cook said Raiders coach Jon Gruden ''found ways to expose matchups all over the field. He found ways to move me around in different positions to actually help me and make me more versatile.''
In Payton's first NFL job in Philadelphia, he worked under Gruden, and the two offensive-minded coaches have philosophical similarities. Payton also is known for shifting players' roles - sometimes considerably - from week to week in search of favorable matchups.
Cook was well aware of that because his tight ends coach in Oakland was Frank Smith, who worked on Payton's staff in New Orleans from 2010-14. Cook said Smith often would touch on his experience with New Orleans when they talked football.
''So, I knew a lot about the Saints and the guys in that building before I got down there,'' Cook said.
Another attraction was the opportunity to stress a secondary in tandem with Saints top receiver Michael Thomas.
''It's going to be huge for both of us,'' Cook said. ''I like his mentality. That's something that you don't find in a lot of receivers - that, `I'm going to go get mine, and I'm going to go get this and nobody's going to be able to stop me - and I think that's important to have in this league.''
Cook, who turns 32 next month, was born in Alabama and grew up outside Atlanta, where he often watched the Falcons practice from a hilltop with his father. He played in college at South Carolina and began his NFL career with Tennessee, which traded with New England to get him during the third round of the 2009 draft.
He spent his first four seasons in Tennessee, where in 2011 he had 49 catches for 759 yards and three touchdowns.
Cook later spent three seasons with the St. Louis Rams and one season with Green Bay before joining Oakland two seasons ago. In his career, Cook has 425 catches for 5,464 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Being back near the Southeast puts Cook, who is married with children, in more manageable proximity to extended family and friends, he said. He sees that not as a distraction, but rather as a way to focus on football with greater peace of mind.
''I have a bigger support system. I have more people around me and more family around me that can kind of help with daily life a little bit more,'' Cook said. ''It's going to help me and my family out quite a bit.''
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 10 of his 26 passes for 72 yards and an interception in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, Aug. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It was an ugly offensive performance for both teams, but it is worth noting that while all the pieces are in place for Mayfield to have a big season, he is still unproven compared to some other QB1 options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon (knee) suffered a knee injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert nailed all four of his field goal attempts in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. His long field goal went for 54 yards in the loss. The rookie kicker has made headlines for the wrong reasons this preseason due to his struggles with accuracy after Cleveland made him a fifth-round pick in the past draft. Fortunately for Seibert, his main competitor Greg Joseph hasn't been any better in the kicking game. Joseph did not get a chance to play on Friday night, presumably he will get the entire fourth preseason game to show that he is the man for the job. Whoever wins the kicker job will have some fantasy value tied to what will be an exciting offense this season.
The Cleveland Browns defense was excellent in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Cleveland racked up seven sacks in the loss, with five of those sacks coming against Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay's first-string offense. The pass rush looked fierce in the contest, with offseason addition Olivier Vernon picking up two sacks on the evening. Cleveland's defense is expected to be a top-six unit in fantasy this season, making them a defense worth targeting toward the end of fantasy drafts.
Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris failed to catch any of his four targets in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. With David Njoku not playing, Harris got the start and played into the second quarter with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The veteran tight end is expected to take a secondary role this season but Harris would have some standalone value if Njoku were to suffer an injury. Harris does not need to be drafted in fantasy leagues but he would presumably be a hot waiver add should he find his way into the starting job during the season.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson turned in a solid game in his team's 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Johnson struggled on the ground, gaining just 10 yards on five carries, but he excelled in the passing game with three catches for 43 yards. The former Orlando Apollo is trying his best to make the final Cleveland roster, having gained 86 yards on 20 carries while adding six catches for 69 yards and a score. Johnson is on the radar as an extremely deep dynasty taxi squad stash going forward.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball five times for 11 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. He also added a three-yard reception in the game. With Nick Chubb sitting out to rest, Hunt got the start and played into the second quarter in the game. The third-year running back has now totaled 17 rushing yards on seven carries across two preseason games. Hunt has to serve an eight-game suspension to open the season but he's expected to fill the passing-down role behind Chubb once he is reinstated for the second half. He should not be drafted outside of deep leagues this year.
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had three catches on four targets for 52 yards during the first half of the Lions preseason Week 3 matchup against the Bills. Hockenson and Stafford already seem to be clicking, making it very exciting to see how well that translates into the regular season. For now, Hockenson remains an interesting late round TE depth option in most leagues and an excellent addition to dynasty teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (wrist) injured his left wrist in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Browns. Gabbert was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, so this injury is likely pretty serious. With the regular season opener coming up quickly, it looks like Ryan Griffin will be the primary backup to starter Jameis Winston in Week 1. Stay tuned for more updates on the exact nature of Gabbert's injury. Gabbert went 4-for-5 for 33 yards before his injury.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Higgins acted as the team's de facto No. 1 receiver with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry resting. He failed to break any big plays on an evening where Baker Mayfield struggled to move the ball down the field. Thanks to an Antonio Callaway four-game suspension to begin the year, Higgins has the No. 3 wide receiver role locked up to open the season. He has some low-end flex appeal in PPR leagues as he should have a few big games this season.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson again saw a light workload during the Lions Week 3 preseason matchup against the Bills. The Lions, and Johnson, seem to be content with letting him see a few touches each preseason game to see some live action but not enough to really risk injury. Johnson had two carries for four yard and one catch for seven yards against the Bills; but ultimately, he remained healthy and looks ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled in his team's third preseason game on Friday. Mayfield completed 10-of-26 passes for 72 yards and an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played the entire first half, leading his team to just nine points on three field goals. While it was an uninspiring outing for Mayfield, it is worth noting that he was without Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku. He won't play in the final preseason game next week, meaning the next time fantasy owners will see him will be the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Mayfield can still be drafted as a QB1 in fantasy despite the poor showing on Friday.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (quadriceps) suffered a quadriceps contusion in the preseason game against the Detroit Lions Friday, Aug. 23.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went 12/19 for 137 yards and a touchdown in his brief outing during the Lion's Week 3 preseason matchup. Even though it was a brief outing, Stafford was able to prove that he is regular season ready; he will likely remain sidelined for the Lion's final preseason game next week. Stafford is a solid QB2 option and a reasonable QB1 option in deeper leagues on weeks that present favorable matchups. Stafford has weapons to work with in 2019, it'll be interesting to see how he uses them.
Green Bay Packers RB Tra Carson is currently ahead of RB Dexter Williams for the No. 3 running back job because he has a better understanding of blitz pickup, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. 'I think just overall knowledge of knowing what to do, especially when it comes to pass protection,' LaFleur said.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) has been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a shoulder injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (wrist) exited the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a left wrist injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (hamstring) was on the field running sprints prior to the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders Thursday, Aug. 22.
Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (leg) exited the preseason game against the Detroit Lions and had his right leg wrapped in ice Friday, Aug. 23.