Rob Gronkowski's retirement has opened up a big void at tight end for the New England Patriots. Late in the free-agent process, there aren't a lot of options available on the market, but Jared Cook is (technically) one of them.
As of yesterday, Cook hadn't yet signed his deal with the New Orleans Saints, and that left a shred of hope that he might consider signing with the Patriots after the news of Gronk's retirement. After all, the Patriots had a lot of interest in Cook.
However, Cook doesn't seem like a realistic option at this point. According to ProFootballTalk's Peter King, Cook isn't going to reconsider his decision to sign with the Saints.
This is disappointing for the Patriots, as there aren't many good tight ends left on the free agent market. And after losing Gronk and cutting Dwayne Allen this offseason, the team was only able to sign Matt LaCosse as a potential replacement. So now, the cupboard is pretty bare at tight end.
In all likelihood, the Patriots will attempt to address this position via the 2019 NFL Draft. They have done a lot of work on the top tight end prospects leading up to the event, so they could target a player or two as a replacement for Gronkowski. But as of right now, it looks like they will have to go the rookie route, as Cook doesn't look likely to have a change of heart.
Of course, there is always an outside shot that Gronkowski returns to the team. His agent wouldn't rule out that possibility. Still, the team can't rely on that and needs to add more depth at the position regardless.
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