Pro: Long term positional flexibility
The Cook signing is as low risk as it can be. It’s a one-year deal with $4.5 million guaranteed. If it doesn’t work out, the Chargers can move on next season. Should Donald Parham or a potential rookie tight end develop, they can move on in that scenario too.
That wasn’t quite the same when talking about Ertz, Rudolph, or Henry. The Chargers would’ve likely had to spend $37.5 million over three years for Henry or $50 million over four. Ertz has one year left on his deal and there would be a lot of pressure to re-sign him if Telesco gave up something as high as a third or fourth-round pick.
Reportedly, Ertz does not want a new contract in an effort to test free agency next year when the cap goes back up. That would’ve put the Chargers in a precarious 2022 position in regards to their tight end position and the other free agent decisions they have to make then.
Rudolph got a two-year, $14 million dollar deal from the Giants. For the long term future of the position, Cook might’ve been the best option in acquiring a serviceable tight end who gives the team the most possibilities in the future.
A third or fourth-round pick for Ertz on a one year deal probably would’ve made it more difficult for the Chargers to draft a tight end considering the other positional needs. The same is true to a lesser degree for Rudolph on a two year deal as well.
With Cook, the coaching staff can focus on developing Parham and perhaps RFA Stephen Anderson if he comes back. Telesco can also spend a mid-round pick on a prospect like Tremble, Hunter Long, or Tre’ McKitty. If those options don’t develop quite like Telesco or the coaching staff want, he has the option of bringing Cook back for another season.