Jared Cook had somewhat of an idea of where he wanted to play in 2021. The Chargers were at the top of the list due to numerous factors, but two were coaching-related because of the experience he had with them previously.
"I think Joe Lombardi had a big part in it, and also Frank Smith," explained Cook. "I think it's important to have coaches that understand what type of player you are."
Lombardi is now the Chargers offensive coordinator. He was the New Orleans Saints quarterback's coach for numerous years. The last two years he spent with Cook as the tight of the team.
There are questions about Lombardi as the man calling the plays. His first stint as the play-caller with the Detroit Lions didn't go very well, which has been brought up. Lombardi feels like he has grown from that experience. Cook knows first hand what to expect from his offensive coordinator.
"I know what Joe brings to the table, man, he's a grinder," explained Cook. "Joe stays up till four or five in the morning, making sure that your offense is ready to go week in and week out. And he puts in the time, and he puts in the effort, and I've seen it firsthand."
The relationship with the new offensive line coach and running game coordinator Frank Smith is different. Smith was his tight ends coach when they were both in Oakland. In those two seasons together, Cook had over 120 catches for over 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cook described Smith as more than just a coach.
"Frank is a coach that he gets to know the player on a base level," said Cook. "He's the type of coach that's not going to go in the meeting room and just tell you how it should be. Or you should have done this here because anybody could do that. Frank is a type of coach that asks you, 'what did you see right here? Why did you do this.' He gets to understand your thought process."
This seems to be a trend with what new head coach Brandon Staley brings to his squad, and his coaches seem to be the same. Staley is said to listen to his player break down film to better understand what his players are seeing.
So, what does Cook feel like he brings to the team?
"A chance to kind of help young players and also a chance to be able to kind of open up the offense a little bit more, spread the field," said Cook. "You know, get on safeties and linebackers, exploit the mismatches when you're giving them, and being able to help score touchdowns and move the ball, which is important in this league."
There was another reason why Cook wanted to join the Chargers besides the coaching staff.
"Justin Herbert also was a huge reason that I came here, he can sling the ball, man, and he came on last year," explained Cook. "Unexpectedly when nobody was expecting him to be a starter, and I think he did a really good job at that."
When it comes to spreading the field, he will be able to get more looks because of how much attention receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams get.
"He's a dynamic receiver," explained Cook about Allen. "Dynamic, one of the best. Route run is impeccable, and it's another just another person where I can learn from just like I did from Mike Thomas. Just like I did from Davante Adams. I consider him one of the best receivers in the league."
Last season, he got to see firsthand what Williams brings to the Chargers. When the Chargers went to New Orleans, Williams cooked their secondary for five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns in week five. He also had a special 29-yard jump ball reception over three secondary players.
"I'm excited to play with Mike too big body frame receiver he is," explained Cook. "He's also a dynamic receiver that can go up and make highlight plays and actually did on us ever since I've been playing against him. So, I'm excited to see these guys daily."
The Chargers feel like they got a difference-maker at the tight end position. Cook, even at his age, can spread the field and bring a lot to the offense.
For Cook, this is an opportunity to keep showing how underrated he has been in his career.
"Yeah, I've always felt like that and, you know, that's just that's just how it is," said Cook. "That's how my career is played out. That always leaves a chip on my shoulder to be able to go out and perform and do great things that continue to get better as a tight end."