Jared Cook: Justin Herbert can sling the ball

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When Hunter Henry agreed to a free-agent deal with the Patriots, the Chargers moved quickly to fill their void at tight end by signing Jared Cook to a one-year contract.

In his introductory press conference on Monday, Cook said one significant factor in joining Los Angeles was the presence of tight ends coach Frank Smith. Cook previously worked with Smith on the Raiders in 2018, and Cook enjoyed one of his best seasons. He set career highs with 68 receptions and 896 yards.

But another factor was 2020 offensive rookie of the year Justin Herbert.

“He can sling the ball, man,” Cook said, via Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group. “He came on last year unexpectedly when nobody was expecting him to be a starter and I think he did a really good job at that.”

Herbert set several rookie passing records last season, throwing for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games.

Cook played the last two years with New Orleans, making 37 receptions for 504 yards with seven touchdowns in 2020. He turns 34 on April 7, and said the chance to help younger players was appealing with the Chargers.

“Also, a chance to be able to open up the offense a little bit more, spread the field, get on safeties and linebackers, exploit the mismatches when you’re getting them and being able to score touchdowns and move the ball,” Cook said.