New Orleans Saints Tight End Jared Cook - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, March 27, 2019
“I'm excited to be a Saint. I think it's pretty awesome that (Head) Coach (Sean) Payton and Mr. (General Manager Mickey) Loomis and (Owner) Mrs. (Gayle) Benson have welcomed me with open arms and have blessed me with another opportunity. I am excited to be here.”
What made the Saints the most appealing destination for you?
“Location, the quarterback, the offense. I think that’s important at this point in my career. I think it is awesome that I am closer to home. Drew Brees is a great quarterback, approaches the game like a true vet and like a true perfectionist. He does all the little things right and he is just on point from top to bottom. I also have a chance to come here right now and make an impact. I have an opportunity to come in and be a huge part of a prolific and high-powered offense and I think that just interests me even more. Then just the coaching staff and offensive coordinator, they were awesome when I was down there. The front office staff was awesome when I was down there. (I have) Nothing but respect and love for those guys. They welcomed me with open arms and just kind of showed me the Saints way.”
What's led to your career progression and do you feel like you're still in the prime of your career?
“I mean the goal of life is to continue to get better and I feel like I'm on that pace, just continuing to grow and continue to just work at being the best and that's my goal. I still feel like I have a lot of room to get better and improve and that's another reason why I came to the Saints. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, it's a new offense so it's going to be a lot of different challenges, but I'm definitely up to them.”
What was the holdup in the signing process?
“I'm not sure. I really wasn't focusing on that. I was focusing on my family. I was focusing on staying in shape and working out and getting things done I need to get done around here. I knew that it was going to work itself out. I really didn't ask no questions on why it was taking so long. My job is to just be patient throughout the whole process, that's what free agency is all about it was just being patient and that's what I was doing.”
Can you say how much interest you had or what other teams were coming after you?
“There was about five other teams.”
How much of your career and your production has been about needing to find the right fit or finally finding the right fit as opposed to you just developing and getting better as a player? It seems like you've had some of your best seasons over the last three years.
“That is a good question. Finding the right fit in this league is tough, just because there is a lot of turnover, a lot of changes year in and year out, a lot of different injuries, different quarterbacks, you have to learn a rapport with a new person, new offensive coordinator, new head coach. Sometimes that can be difficult if you do not find the right fit. That played a part early in my career I feel like, stability, just getting better and learning. But, 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. I feel like that's been the biggest difference in the transition in my career as of late. (The Raiders) actually used me on what I'm good at. Coach (Jon) Gruden found ways to expose matchups all over the field and he found ways to move me around in different positions that actually helped me and made me more versatile on my role on the field. Up until last year, that was a huge turning point.”
You mentioned being closer to home, did you grow up a Saints fan?
“I grew up as a Falcons fan. I grew up in Suwanee (Georgia). I grew up off of Lawrenceville, Suwanee, and my dad used to take us to that McDonald's on the top of the hill (near their former Suwanee practice facility) and watched the Falcons practice growing up, but as I kind of got older and got into the league, that love faded really quick. I didn't necessarily grow up a Saints fan, but I know how serious the rivalry is between the Saints and the Falcons as well as the Panthers and the Saints. I grew up around a lot of Charlotte friends as well playing at South Carolina. I know how important it is to the organization and to the fans and how intense it is. I'm looking forward to it.”
Do you still have family in Alabama or are they mostly in Georgia?
“I have a lot of family in Alabama and in Georgia.”
How excited are they (your family) to have you closer to home?
“Oh, they are geeked. I have been getting nothing but messages from all my family and friends. Excited about coming to the games, excited about watching you play. I think it is awesome for myself because I have a bigger support system. I have more people around me, and more family around me that could kind of help with daily life a little bit more. So, I think it's going to help me and my family quite a bit to have those other friends and family around.”
Did you kind of identify New Orleans as a spot that you would want to go to pretty early just considering the need they had at tight end – the offense and all that stuff?
“Yeah, absolutely. Frank Smith was my coach in Oakland, and he would use to talk about the guys in New Orleans quite a bit. Me and Frank (Smith) spent a lot of one-on-one time together. And he was just talking about some guys from the Saints organization and how they did things – how things are run in the organization. How Drew (Brees) runs the offense, like things like that. So I knew a lot about the Saints and the guys in that building before I got down there. And, that intrigued me throughout the year. And once I got down there, I just saw how down to earth and hungry a lot of those coaches were. And that just intrigued me even more and helped me make that decision.”
Do you have any connection with Drew Brees? Have you interacted at all?
“He shot me a text last week, and said how excited he was to have me be a part of the team. So that was pretty awesome. That was my first contact with him. Other than that, I've just always been a fan – watched him just expose defenses all across the league and he was on point last year in all categories. So, I'm excited to be working with him and just learn from him and (keep) growing with him.”
What would be like for you to play with a guy like Michael Thomas?
“I think it is going to be huge, and I think it is going to be huge for both of us to be honest with you. I think it is going to be big for both of us. I like his work ethic. I like his mentality. That’s something that you don't find in a lot of receivers – that mentality 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. Confidence is huge. And I think he has all the tools, the intangibles, and the aspects to his game that's going to continue to carry him. And as a young player, that's important, man. It's important to notice those intangibles of the things that Mike does have, and I think that's going to help us throughout the whole year. That's hard to find in player