Chargers get weapon for Justin Herbert, sign Jared Cook to replace Hunter Henry

The Los Angeles Chargers lost Hunter Henry in free agency, but they have replaced him with a new weapon for Justin Herbert.

It seemed fairly inevitable, but the Los Angeles Chargers lost tight end, Hunter Henry, to the New England Patriots in free agency. They have moved quickly to replace him though, with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reporting Jared Cook has been signed to a one-year, $6 million deal with $4.5 million guaranteed.

Cook has spent the last two seasons with the New Orleans Saints, totaling 80 receptions and 16 touchdowns while averaging 15.1 yards per catch over that span. Coming off a season with his lowest catch (37) and yardage (504) totals since 2016, and with their cap issues in mind, Cook was released by the Saints in early March.

Justin Herbert gets a new weapon to work with in Jared Cook

The Chargers had the league’s sixth-best pass offense last year. Henry was a notable contributor to that, with 60 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns. Cook older, approaching his 34th birthday, but he’s still a solid player to pair with promising young tight end Donald Parham. New Chargers’ offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi spent the last five seasons as the Saints’ quarterbacks coach, so he’s familiar with Cook.

With the signings of center Corey Linsley and guard/tackle Matt Feiler, the Chargers are making the required effort to support Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Replacing Henry with an equal player was going to be difficult, if not impossible.

But Cook will be a reliable veteran target for Herbert — 59 of his 80 catches with the Saints went for first downs, and he had just six drops on 125 targets over the last two seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, Saints’ quarterbacks had passer ratings of 135.6 (2019) and 120.4 (2020) when throwing to Cook.

With a lot of losses coming via coaching blunders or ill-timed on-field mistakes, talent level has never been a problem for the Chargers. A new coaching staff led by Brandon Staley now has another veteran on the offensive side of the ball, and one that will be valuable on as well as off the field.

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