Jared Cook hasn't put pen to paper with the New Orleans Saints yet, but at this point it seems to just be a matter of time. Cook and the Saints have been approaching a deal since last week, but the Pro Bowl tight end and New Orleans haven't come to terms.

The Saints want Cook to replace retiring tight end Benjamin Watson. Another tight end spot with a future Hall of Fame quarterback opened up on Sunday, when Rob Gronkowksi announced his retirement. In the wake of that, Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots made a push to land Cook, but he's in exclusive negotiations with the Saints. With that in mind, the Patriots will likely have to look elsewhere to find someone who can make a dent in replacing Gronk's production.

Cook had 68 catches for 896 yards last year with the Raiders, whereas Gronkowski hauled in 47 balls for 682 yards (albeit in three fewer games). This year's free agent tight end class was thin, with Jesse James and Nick Boyle both getting multi-year deals worth around $20 million. Two Iowa tight ends, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, could both go in the first round of April's draft, but after that, there aren't many who jump off the page -- and both Hockenson and Fant could be gone by the time the Patriots pick.

With that being said, this is the Patriots. They're well known for making something out of nothing. While they won't be able to directly duplicate Gronkowski's insane production, they'll find a way to at least mask his loss. They did so for games he missed throughout his career, at any rate.