Despite the back-and-forth between the Chargers and Hunter Henry, I don’t think many really believed he would end up signing elsewhere in free agency. Despite the expected hefty price tag, the Chargers just didn’t seem like the Chargers if the team’s TE1 over the past five seasons wasn’t donning the powder blue and gold.
Unfortunately, the money really did end up being the difference as Henry opted to sign a three-year, $37.5 million deal to move out east and play for the Patriots.
As a short-term plug for the position, the Bolts brought in veteran Jared Cook who spent the past two seasons playing in New Orleans alongside now-Chargers offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi. Cook’s advanced age (34) is certainly a cause for concern, but not a whole lot, to be honest. He’s recorded more touchdowns over the age of 30 (24) than Henry has thus far in his entire career (21). Cook is also a better vertical threat and may end up being a better fit for Justin Herbert and his skillset.
To get a bit more insight into the Bolts’ newest pass-catcher, I reached out to our Saints sister site, Canal Street Chronicles, for a short Q&A.
Let’s dive right in! Hope you guys enjoy!
1.) Will the Saints miss the presence of Cook in their offense? What was the overall consensus of him as a player during his time in New Orleans?
“Make no mistake about it: the Saints offense will miss Jared Cook’s presence as a target down field. The Saints are expecting big things in the second season of the University of Dayton’s Adam Trautman, but Jared Cook is still a productive player on offense. Now, if you ask what the overall “consensus” of Saints fans, the first thing they would probably point out is his issue with fumbles. Cook has fairly reliable hands bringing the ball to his body when it’s in the air, but once it’s in his hands, he’s had a bit of bad luck in holding on to it. His fumbles became more pronounced as they came at incredibly unfortunate times (like with the Saints driving with the lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s divisional round).”
2.) Even at his advanced age, Cook has been very productive in recent years. His touchdown totals of nine in 2019 and seven in 2020 are the two highest marks of his career this far. How did he find so much success with the Saints?
“I’m not sure how much of that was Jared Cook and how much of that was opposing defenses focusing in on Michael Thomas, Sean Payton’s creative play-designing, and Drew Brees’s execution. I would think Cook could have a solid season in 2021, but I wouldn’t expect quite as many touchdowns this season as the past few.”
3.) Cook is well-known for being a threat in the passing game but that’s at the cost of not being a big contributor as a run-blocker. How did the Saints work around this issue with Cook? How often was he actually asked to block in the run game?
“Not often. The Saints have had other tight ends who were primarily responsible for blocking (or chipping), so it was just not something Jared Cook was asked to do often.”
4.) How do you predict new Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will use Jared Cook in the Bolts’ offense?
“I’d expect something similar to his use in New Orleans. At his age, you aren’t going to change his ways and suddenly make him an elite blocker. Instead, focus on his role in the passing game as he presents a big-bodied target, especially in the redzone. He’s not the quickest players at his age, so he’s not going to break away from players with elite speed once he has the ball in his hand. Honestly, the best play would be for routes to be designed in a way where his down (or out of bounds) shortly after the catch to help avoid untimely fumbles.”
5.) What is Cook like off the field? What type of personality are the Chargers adding to their locker room?
“By all accounts, Cook is a solid guy in the locker room. He didn’t necessarily take a leadership role in his short time with the Saints, but there was never any reported issue of him being a trouble with his teammates. He was always friendly with the media, always had a smile on his face, and even considering the fumbles, I’m sad to see him go.”