TE Jared Cook to the Chargers – 1-year, $6mil max, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2021
Earlier in the day, Benjamin Allbright and other NFL reporters said that the Chargers were making a run at Zach Ertz. With Cook now in the fold, that trade attempt probably doesn’t happen.
While Ertz was the best option available, trading for him is a different circumstance. Tom Telesco was probably hesitant to give up a third or fourth-rounder for a tight end that might’ve only been here for a year.
That being said, Kyle Rudolph was still on the market for about the same price as Cook. In terms of athleticism and YAC ability, he would’ve been my preference over an aging Cook. There are some advantages to signing Cook though.
Pro: Jared Cook’s bring familiarity and experience to the LA Chargers
There are two huge connections on the Chargers’ coaching staff to Cook. One is offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, former quarterbacks coach for the Saints. Offensive line/run game coordinator Frank Smith, who might be the lesser-known connection as he was the Raiders’ tight ends coach during Cook’s first Pro Bowl season in Oakland.
The league is all about connections. Familiarity with a player in your system is huge, especially when trying to replace someone who had been around for a while like Hunter Henry. If the Chargers are going to run a Saints adjacent offensive scheme, it makes sense to get someone who knows both the coaching staff and that system.
Experience is an advantage here too. Cook is a 12 year NFL vet who has honestly gotten better with age. His numbers did come down a bit in his age 33 2020 season, but the two best years of his career were his Pro Bowl campaigns at 31 and 32.
The Chargers will still have Donald Parham and they might draft a rookie tight end in April. Parham will be 24 next season while a rookie like Tommy Tremble would be just 21. Having a veteran like Cook is a huge advantage in mentoring young TE’s and to some extent, Justin Herbert himself.
2020 Saints’ draft pick Adam Trautman had a solid rookie tight end campaign, which is why the Saints felt they could move on from Josh Hill and Cook. Cook’s mentorship could work the same magic for Parham or a 2021 rookie for the 2022 season.