Jared Cook signs with Chargers: ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Los Angeles Chargers have signed TE Jared Cook to a one-year deal worth a maximum value of $6 million.
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TE Jared Cook to the Chargers - 1-year, $6mil max, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2021
Jared Cook Signs with Chargers
When the Chargers declined to place the franchise tag on TE Hunter Henry, he was as good as gone from Los Angeles. It didn’t take long. Henry signed a three-year deal with the Patriots early in the free agency process. With Henry’s departure, the Chargers had a hole at the tight end position and filled it with Jared Cook, who was released by the Saints on March 3.
While he only signed a one-year deal which can be worth up to $6 million assuming performance-based incentives, the short co0ntract does not mean that Cook is washed despite the fact that he is entering his age-34 season in 2021. In fact, Cook is coming off some of the most productive years of his career and didn’t really blossom until his late-20s.
Until Cook landed with the Raiders back in 2017, his previous career highs were 52 receptions (2014), 671 yards (2013) and five touchdowns (2013). While his two seasons with the Raiders, Cook set career bests in receptions, yards and scores, he put it all together in 2018, posting a 68/896/6 stat line on 101 targets in 16 games. Those career bests still stick outside of touchdowns which currently sits at nine, a feat Cook accomplished in 2019.
In fact, Cook has 7+ touchdowns in each of his past two seasons in New Orleans. Cook’s reception and yardage totals regressed in New Orleans, but his target-share also shrunk. It was the system more so than Cook. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara dominated targets while Cook got the leftovers.
Assuming the Chargers elect to move forward with Cook and Donald Parham as their top two tight ends and fail to address the position any further, Cook could be in line for an expanded target-share compared to what he received with the Saints. In each of the past two seasons, Henry received 76+ targets including a career-high 93 last year with Justin Herbert. Henry played 12 games and 14 games consecutively in those campaigns.
The Chargers are not only getting a veteran who can help out a young tight end room and quarterback, but Cook is also quietly one of the more efficient tight ends in the NFL. Last season, Cook was the 12th best tight end in yards per route run (1.64), ninth in yards per target (8.4) and third in yards per reception (13.6).
For his 6-foot-5, 248-pound size, Cook is also a field stretcher with 97th-percentile speed, which explains why he was fourth in average target distance (11.1) and 11th in air yards (668). Cook’s size also makes him a reliable threat in the red zone for Herbert. Cook caught 8-of-15 rez one targets in 15 games in 2020.
Chargers 2021 NFL Betting Outlook
Chargers AFC West Winner (+450)
(Odds courtesy of PointsBet)
- Chiefs (-450)
- Chargers (+450)
- Raiders (+1200)
- Broncos (+1600)
If the Chargers played in any other divisions in the NFL, I’d give them a realistic shot to win it. However, they are stuck in the AFC West with the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs. Barring an unfortunate injury to Patrick Mahomes or a catastrophic collapse, the Chiefs are going to win the West again.
The Chargers should be competitive, especially if they can avoid their greatest nemesis to-date, the injury bug, which has made one of the top-end rosters in the NFL a perennial handicap in recent memory.