Familiarity with coaches draws Cook to sign with Chargers


COSTA MESA, Calif. — Jared Cook has signed with a new team, and he will have two coaches who are very familiar with him.

Cook said Monday that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and offensive line coach Frank Smith influenced the veteran tight end to sign a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I think it’s important to have coaches that understand what type of player you are and who you are as a person. A lot of times in free agency that takes away some of the unknowns in visiting different teams,” Cook said.

Lombardi and Smith were hired by new head coach Brandon Staley. Cook said he was in contact with Smith and Lombardi throughout the free agency process.

Smith was the Raiders’ tight end coach the past three seasons, including in 2018 when Cook made the Pro Bowl for the first time and set career highs for catches (68) and yards (896) along with six touchdowns.

“He gets to understand your thought process while playing the game at 100 miles per hour so that he can better understand you as a player and be able to coach you better,” Cook said of Smith. “I think that’s important. Because Frank laid out that type of relationship, me and him have always kept in contact.”

Cook’s previous two seasons were in New Orleans, where Lombardi was the quarterbacks coach. Cook had a career-high nine TDs in 2019 and then had 37 receptions for 504 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

“He was the big reason for a lot of our gameplans — really, most of our gameplans. He would go break down film for us, then deliver everything that he broke down,” Cook said. “He would also be the guy that’s up in the box telling us everything that he saw during the game. His tutelage, his football IQ is very high.”

Cook said he hopes to be able to help the offense spread the field and create mismatches with safeties and linebackers. His 22 touchdowns over the past three seasons are second in the league among tight ends. He is expected to fill the void left when Hunter Henry signed with the New England Patriots.

Besides Cook, the Chargers also have Stephen Anderson and Donald Parham on the roster at tight end.

Offensive guard Oday Aboushi also had his first availability since agreeing to terms Saturday on a one-year deal. He lined up mostly at right guard last season in Detroit, but he said the coaching staff hasn’t told him which side they have in mind for him with Los Angeles.

“Last year, earning the opportunity to go in there and start — starting and playing the way I did at that level — just gives you more confidence moving forward and what I can do better next season,” he said.

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