Con: Could it stunt Justin Herbert’s development?
For the record, I don’t think that having Cook will be a massive difference from what they had with Henry in the short term. On paper though, the team is swapping a solid 27 year old TE that Herbert had familiarity with the 34 year old Cook.
Having a stop-gap option is good from a flexibility standpoint like I mentioned before, but it’s another year that the team won’t have their future at the tight end position. Sure, there’s potential that Parham or somebody else becomes that future over the course of the season. Realistically though, it’s far from a certainty.
Parham played more in the last weeks of the season due to the absence of Henry, but his snap counts were pretty low before that point. Prior to Henry being place on the COVID-19 list, Parham’s season-high in snaps was just 24.
If Cook doesn’t work out or declines, that puts more pressure on the younger tight ends on the roster. The team should hope that doesn’t happen of course, but it’s a possibility.
The answer to that wasn’t paying Henry $12.5 or $13 million in my opinion. However, it might’ve been acquiring an Ertz or Rudolph type for higher chances of having a more reliable pass-catcher over the middle.
Cook is older and therefore a step slower than those other options I mentioned. He brought his drops down in 2020 which was good, but there was a small underlying drop problem in previous seasons that could reemerge. Cook had 27 drops in his last five seasons prior to 2020, an average of about five per year.
Having a reliable pass catcher over the middle for Hebert is important. There’s less of a chance that Cook is a total success given his age/production relative to the other options that were on the table.