Saints near deal with TE Cook, sources say

The New Orleans Saints are on the verge of filling their most glaring need with the top pass-catching tight end available in free agency this year, Jared Cook.

Sources have described a deal between the two sides as close but not finalized — which Cook himself amplified on Friday.

When asked whether he has agreed to a deal with New Orleans, Cook winked and told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, “Maybe,” while at an event for the NFL’s Ed Block Courage Award winners. Cook then said “it’s going to be pretty awesome” catching passes from Drew Brees.

“I’ve been a big fan of Drew for a long time and the way he approaches the game,” Cook said. “He’s on point. He’s on top of his game right now. He’s just a baller. I look forward to seeing him do great things in the future. …

“It could be a big production year. Just as long as I take care of what I can take care of, we should be all right.”

When asked whether he is surprised to be leaving the Oakland Raiders after having two of the best seasons of his 10-year career with them, Cook said, “Yeah, but it’s a business. They’re still my guys. You take it for what it is.”

Cook will turn 32 on April 7, but he is coming off arguably the finest season of his career (a career-high 68 catches, career-high 896 receiving yards and career-high six touchdowns). He played in his first Pro Bowl in January as an alternate.

New Orleans, meanwhile, needs another reliable pass-catcher to pair with receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. Last year, tight end Benjamin Watson ranked third on the Saints with 35 receptions — and Watson has since retired.

Cook spent two years with the Raiders and is the first tight end in NFL history to have a 100-yard-receiving game for four teams — the Titans, Rams, Packers and Raiders.

Last season, Cook had four games with more than 100 yards receiving. He set the franchise record for a tight end with 180 yards — on nine catches — in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cook was fourth among all NFL tight ends last season in receiving yards, tied for fourth in touchdowns and was third with 15 receptions of at least 20 yards.

With 5,464 career receiving yards, Cook is the eighth active tight end in the NFL with at least 5,000 yards. He has 425 receptions for an average of 12.9 yards per catch, and he has 25 touchdowns.

He was also the Raiders’ winner of the Ed Block award, which says it honors “those who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication.”

ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez contributed to this report.

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