The LA Chargers signed veteran tight end Jared Cook to help replace Hunter Henry, who signed a four-year deal with the New England Patriots. While Cook is a former Pro Bowler, he is not an exact replacement for Henry.
Henry is on his way up because of his age while Cook is likely on his way down. However, Cook does bring something to the table that Henry does not: experience. Henry has experience in the league, but not to the extent that Cook has.
That is what makes Cook valuable on this team. The Chargers are entering a transition era at the tight end position and Cook is huge for that transition. His insight is going to be extremely important to the likes of Tre’ McKitty, Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson.
As far as the production for Cook himself, well, there is a reason to be concerned. Cook is not young in football years and statistically has regressed the last two years. This is part of the reason why Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report names Cook as the one player on the LA Chargers that could disappoint in 2021.
Should the LA Chargers actually be worried about Jared Cook disappointing?
Disappointment is a completely subjective thing in itself as it is all based on expectations. If the expectations for Cook are low in-house then he is not going to disappoint. If the expectations are high in-house then there is that possibility.
Based on some of the fan reactions when the Chargers signed Cook, I think it is safe to say that he is going to disappoint the fanbase. Cook is a relatively big name with that comes excitement, even if he is in the latter stages of his career.
And let’s be honest, every single NFL fan likes to overrate the signing that their team made, regardless of who it was.
While his experience will be valuable to the players, do not expect Cook to have some sort of career resurgence, even if he is going from Drew Brees to a quarterback with a rocket arm in Justin Herbert. That is not going to matter.
He is a vertical tight end that is not a great blocker that is getting old. Vertical tight ends and age do not mix well and he was already showing signs of that last year. It is a bit easier when you are dealing with a blocking tight end like Virgil Green, this is different.
This is just a one-year deal so it is not like the Chargers are going to get burned money-wise and as long as Cook is not meant to be a massive part of the passing attack then the Chargers will likely be fine.
With that being said, don’t be surprised if Cook is no longer getting the lion’s share of snaps once we get late into the season.