Though it’s early in the season, the saddest player in the NFL just might be No. 89 for the Green Bay Packers. Jared Cook signed a modest one-year contract with the Packers, confident he’d put up numbers that would get him a big multi-year deal – here or elsewhere – in 2017.
After playing with a series of below-average quarterbacks, he fully expected that teaming up with superstar Aaron Rodgers would result in a breakout year. Even more promising, coach Mike McCarthy was preaching about the great opportunities in the modern NFL to exploit the middle of the field – all that was needed was a big, strong, fast receiver. A Super Bowl ring seemed a real possibility.
Two games in, Cook is averaging 2.5 catches and 19 yards receiving per game. Despite all the excitement, generated in part by Cook’s impressive preseason showing, Aaron Rodgers has barely looked his way. The powerful passing attack that he thought he was joining is ranked 31st in the league. Though he freed himself from Rams quarterback Case Keenum, if Cook were still with the Rams at least he’d be living in Los Angeles and hanging out in Malibu or running into actresses and models at L.A.s latest hot spots. Then there’s the excitement that Los Angeles is feeling over the Rams – its first NFL team since the Rams and Raiders both left in 1995.
Instead, Jared’s dreams are hanging by the flimsiest of threads. How could he not be bummed?
The happiest player in the NFL has got to be a guy who was in the last year of his contract, who had been told by his team there would be no contract renewal talks during the season, and who in any event was not likely to be offered more than his current five-year $33 million deal. Josh Sitton was 30 years old, unappreciated by his current team’s management, and with a very uncertain future. Then, on the roster cutdown day, the Packers humiliatingly dumped their All Pro guard. He deserved better.
Two days later, the skies brightened. The Chicago Bears showed their appreciation of the blue-collar journeyman in the best possible way: by signing Sitton to a magnificent new, and better, contract worth $21.75 over three years.
On Monday night, when the Bears’ offensive unit was introduced, there was Sitton in the blue and red, with a big smile on his face. Who can blame him?