The salary cap-strapped New Orleans Saints officially released a pair of tight ends on Wednesday, two-time Pro Bowl veteran Jared Cook and Josh Hill.
Cook was already scheduled to become a free agent on March 17, while Hill had one season remaining on a three-year, $8.85 million deal. New Orleans reportedly cleared $2.5 million off the salary cap with Hill’s release.
The Saints are expected to make several more moves in the coming days, as they enter the offseason currently projected to be over $64 million over the salary cap for the 2021 season, according to Over The Cap estimates.
Cook, who turns 34 next month, and Hill, who turns 31 in May, combined for 45 receptions, 550 yards and eight touchdown grabs in 12 starts at tight end last season for New Orleans.
Cook posted most of that pass-catching production, with 37 catches for 504 yards — his lowest totals since the 2016 season. He also added seven touchdown receptions, giving him 16 in his two years with the Saints — the most in his career in a two-season span.
“Jared consistently displayed the playmaking skills that attracted us to him as a free agent two years ago,” Saints coach Sean Payton said in a news release. “He made a lot of big plays for us and was a positive influence on his teammates. Jared is a consummate professional who is dedicated to his craft and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Cook has been a productive receiving threat in stints with the Tennessee Titans (2009-12), St. Louis Rams (2013-15), Green Bay Packers (2016) and then-Oakland Raiders (2017-19). He has 505 catches for 6,673 yards and 41 touchdowns in a 12-year career. He was a third-round pick by the Titans in 2009.
Hill, originally an undrafted free agent out of Idaho State, has spent all eight previous seasons with the Saints. In 117 games (61 starts), he has compiled 116 catches and 1,071 yards with 15 touchdowns.
“Josh joined us an undrafted free agent in 2013 and has been a model of consistency throughout his eight seasons with us,” Payton said. “He has been reliable, selfless and filled numerous roles for us, oftentimes on the fly and in the middle of games, filling each role at a very high level. We appreciate everything he has done for our team and know he will have continued success as he moves forward.”
–Field Level Media