Chargers sign Jared Cook to start at tight end
March 25, 2021
Last week, the Los Angeles Chargers lost their starting tight end to the New England Patriots. Hunter Henry had been a Charger for the past five seasons, but once he got on the market as a free agent, it was inevitable that the Chargers would lose him. As one of the better tight ends in the NFL, Henry was going to get an offer he could not refuse and that came in the form of a $37.5 million dollar contract offer from the Patriots.
Fortunately, the Chargers new coaching staff had connections to another free agent and the team was able to fill the void left by Henry’s departure. The Chargers signed Jared Cook to a one year, $6 million dollar contract to start at tight end for the Chargers in 2021. Cook, who will turn 34 in April, is a 12-year veteran who has 505 career receptions and has caught 41 touchdown passes.
Cook has improved with age, making the pro bowl with the Oakland Raiders in 2018 and in 2019 with the New Orleans Saints. Cook’s tight end coach with the Raiders, Frank Smith, is now with the Chargers as their running game coordinator & offensive line coach. The Chargers new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, worked with Cook the past two seasons as a quarterback coach for the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees.
Before the 2020 season began, Pro Football Focus had Henry as the 8th best tight end in the NFL and Cook as the 9th best tight end in the NFL. At the end of the 2020 season, PFF had Cook and Henry tied at 24th among 71 tight ends. Cook will provide a similar level of play at tight end but at a less expensive price.
At his press conference, Cook spoke about the relationships with Smith and Lombardi that helped him decide on the Chargers as his next team: “I think it’s important to have coaches that understand what type of player you are and who you are as a person. A lot of times in free agency that takes away some of the unknowns in visiting different teams.”
Cook continued to talk about Coach Smith, “He gets to understand your thought process while playing the game at 100 miles per hour so that he can better understand you as a player and be able to coach you better. I think that’s important. Because Frank laid out that type of relationship, me and him have always kept in contact.”
With the Saints, according to Cook, Lombardi “was the big reason for a lot of our game plans. He would go break down film for us, then deliver everything that he broke down. His tutelage, his football IQ is very high.” Cook was also a teammate of new center Corey Linsley in Green Bay in 2016. Linsley referred to Cook as a "phenomenal teammate.”
The Chargers also signed free agent offensive guard Oday Aboushi to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million dollars. The seven-year veteran has starter 42 NFL games at guard, including eight games last season with the Detroit Lions at right guard. Aboushi was a 5th round pick of the New York Jets in 2013. With his experience, he could be the starter at right guard for the Chargers. Aboushi was rated 26th out of 80 guards rated by PFF in 2020.
The Charger resigned restricted free agent tight end Stephen Anderson to a contract. Terms were undisclosed. Anderson is a good blocker and started the final two games last season in place of an injured Henry, catching 7 passes for 100 yards in the final two games.
The Chargers will likely add a developmental prospect at tight end through the NFL draft, which will be held from April 29th through May 1st or in about five weeks. But the addition of Cook has for this season solved the issue created by the loss of Henry. According to overthecap.com, the Chargers have $27.5 million in salary cap space, so it is likely that they will add a few more free agents before the NFL draft.