Oakland Raiders: Ranking team’s offensive positional needs this offseason

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images /
5 of 6
Oakland Raiders
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images /

2. Tight End

Perhaps it was born of necessity, but Jared Cook emerged as Derek Carr’s go-to receiving option/security blanket. Cook made so many big plays this year – though he may be remembered best for one boneheaded play in Kansas City that turned into a touchdown going the other way.

Regardless, Cook showed just how important a good pass-catching tight end is in this offensive system. Although they have Lee Smith, Derek Carrier, and Darren Waller under contract in 2019 (Smith and Carrier until 2020), they still need to add a more athletic receiving tight end.

Waller stepped up in the latter stages of the season and showed that he has some athleticism and can catch the ball. Still they need somebody like Cook, who has the speed and athleticism to stretch the field a bit, as well as the size to outmuscle defenders.

The team’s priority should be trying to re-sign Cook, since he already has a rapport and chemistry with Carr. Maintain that continuity. And yet that might not be feasible for a number of reasons. He’ll be expensive to retain, no question about it, but last season, he didn’t seem all too thrilled to be wearing the Silver and Black.

The best option would be to keep him, but it may not come to pass.

Barring that, the Raiders could look to a veteran free agent like Tyler Eifert if they wanted to roll the dice on a very talented, but oft-injured pass catcher. They could also kick the tires on guys like Marcedes Lewis and Jesse James, who both figure to hit the open market.

Or they could draft one like Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Iowa’s Noah Fant, or UCLA’s Caleb Wilson – the latter two may be available on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Raiders definitely need a reliable pass catching tight end. Born of necessity or not, Carr has come to rely on guys like Cook who have proven to be valuable, especially down in the red zone.