Nov 25, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook (89) runs in the second quarter of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Real Reason The Titans Let Jared Cook Walk

All Titan fans know about Jared Cook and his potential.  It has been widely assumed up to this point that he would get the franchise tag placed on him.  We all now know that didn’t happen as the Titans elected to just simply let Cook walk into free agency.  How could they let such a crucial player with such great athletic ability simply walk away?  An asset just simply gone without a fight or compensation.

Cook wanted out. Period.

Fans will remember Cook’s disgruntlement with the Titans’ play calling and their lack of using him earlier in the season.  At one point he even said he wanted to be traded.  The Titans vowed to change that this off season and have changed offensive coordinators and the tight ends coach as well.

Had Cook been franchised, he was prepared to challenge being tagged as a tight end, and would argue that he was used more as a wide receiver, and therefor should be awarded a wide receivers price tag. (An extra $4.5M)  The Titans said they weren’t ready to fight that battle and run the risk of losing in arbitration.

Few think the Titans would have lost that battle.  The real problem is that Cook was unhappy and wanted out.  Even if the Titans had won the arbitration, under the new CBA, Cook could have skipped all the OTA’s and mini camps this off season.  All he would have to do is show up before the first game, sign his tender, and the contract is good.

It’s not a small leap to believe this was a prominent threat in the negotiations between the two camps.  Cook wanted out and he was playing hardball.

The word out of Baptist Sports Park has repeatedly been that the Titans planned on featuring Jared Cook in next years offense.  They were going to feed him as much as possible and let him be the play maker we all think he has the potential to be.  It’s pretty hard to design an offensive scheme around a player that’a not even there no matter how good he is.  Too little too late for the Jared Cook camp, and he had the Titans between a rock and a hard place.

It wasn’t the risk of losing arbitration that was too great for the Titans.  But rather the risk of a camp holdout of a key player you were trying to design an offense around, that you could then have to pay once the season started. 

Why It’s Going To Be Okay

The Titans brought in George Henshaw to be the new tight ends coach in order to help revamp the offense and feed the TE’s as a primary outlet for young Jake Locker.  Think Frank Wychek.  Do you remember Wychek splitting out into the slot 56% of the time?  Henshaw’s use of the tight end, combined with Dowell Loggains new system will be to get the ball out quick on shorter routes, in order to make things a little easier on Jake Locker.  Sure, you can take your shots from time to time, but consistent seam routes that take a long time to develop are not going to be a staple of the offense.

For all his athletic ability, Cook’s prowess was definitely not in the area of getting open quick.  He often failed to get separation from linebackers early and could only do so when able to use his speed on deeper routes.  These shorter crossing routes and hitches require more technique and less pure speed.  These shorter quicker routes were also where he was prone to dropping the “easy” catch.

You only gain the benefit of having such an athletic tight end when you get mismatches due to packages.  If your tight end never blocks, and usually splits out or runs routes, then the defense is going to treat him as a wide receiver and trot a defensive back on the field to cover him.  Part of what makes Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski so great is their blocking ability on running downs.  The defense has to pick their poison.

The Titans goal is to move the chains and run a simplified offense. They need to get into more manageable down and distance early, not air it out deep to a play maker constantly, that just serves as a decoy the rest of the time.  The Titans will find another guy in free agency and fit him into a scheme that won’t feature a Jimmy Graham type of tight end.  That’s okay.  Vernon Davis and Dennis Pitta don’t line up as wide outs all the time, and they were in the Super Bowl.

Time to step up Kenny.


You can argue with me on Twitter   @gunnelsj

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  • Justin Stewart

    Well said. I especially liked and agreed with this part:

    “It wasn’t the risk of losing arbitration that was too great for
    the Titans. But rather the risk of a camp holdout of a key player you
    were trying to design an offense around, that you could then have to pay
    once the season started.”

    This is a no bullshit season. Titans have to make the playoffs and they everyone on board the team, not off in their own solo boats.

    Be a professional.

    • josh gunnels

      Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out! (But I’m keeping him on my dynasty fantasy team, lol)

  • Joshua Huffman

    This article is the truth. It was time to move on. Not sure how they were going to build an offense around a TE who can’t block. Were they going to do a lot of 4 WR formations or which of the three WRs loses playing time when Cook moves to slot?

    • josh gunnels

      Excactly. I cut out the part you are talking about for length. 500 yards as a wr is very replacebale. He was no good in short yardage and was just taking playing time away from others.

      I DO think he was misused. Be that as it may though, he’s not worth the headache.

  • Shawn Eagle

    Does everybody always agree on here???? Well….I agree but I will take a slightly different angle.

    - In a way I kind of side with Cookie….he was told for 2 years he was going to be more involved in the offense…and that simply didn’t happen…whether it was due to the juggling of QBs or just the offense itself…the Titans as a whole simply didn’t try to get him involved.

    - I do think Henshaw will help but we haven’t had too much luck with TEs on this team since Erron Kinney….and to think that Thompson…a guy who has never played TE before in his life can come in his 2nd year and be this great TE is very far fetched

    - 4 WR sets with one of those receivers being a TE can be very effective

    - I don’t think it had anything to do with the threat of him holding out…..the Titans would have lost in arbitration due to the percentage of plays he played in the slot last year.

    - I think it came down to not paying that 10 mil…..there is no way they could have justified that

    • josh gunnels

      1) I’m not against Cook. I would have done the same thing if I were him, and yes the Titans didn’t feature him enough due to a poor offense in general for whatever the reason.

      2) I never said anything about Thompson in the article at all. He’s still a complete project at best. I in no way insinuated he’s the answer.

      3) The mismatch created on a DB vs. speed TE, is in now way comparable to that of a LB on a speed TE. You can still be effective with A 4WR set and one being a TE, but it doesn’t constitute the same mismatch that you get putting Cook on a LB.

      4) We can agree to disagree on the hold out. First off it’s not a true “hold out” as it’s legal by the rules of the CBA to franchised players. Cook’s displeasure with this team and the staff is nothing new. I don’t think it’s that far fetched.

      5)I agree he’s not worth the $10M. I agree that the Titans don’t think he’s worth $10M. But I don’t think he would have won the argument.

      • Shawn Eagle

        1.) That’s good…me too
        2.) I didn’t say you did…..there are people out there that think he will be able to step right in though.
        3.) If that DB is a Safety…a speed TE can be just as effective easily. Just with his size alone he should always win the match up even if he’s being covered by an elite DB. More than a few times the D will line up in nickel and there will be a nickel LB covering that TE which also makes it a good matchup for the offense.
        4.) Yeah not a big deal to me….he just seemed pissed anyway

    • Justin Stewart

      Thompson played a TE in high school and was going to in college but the system changed when he got there and didn’t utilized TE’s so he switched to DE.

      He has played TE.

      And yeah, it definitely came down to just not paying him $10 million, which I completely agree with. He wasn’t utilized well in our system and I still think he’s a great TE, but we weren’t getting the numbers from him that warrant paying him $10 million.

      • Shawn Eagle

        Justin….really..really…come on…a high school TE does not translate to a TE in the NFL.

        He played WR / DE in high school though…right down the road from me in Prosper Texas

        • Justin Stewart

          You could say the same thing at any position, especially QB.

          “…a guy who has never played TE before in his life”

          The fact still remains that he has played TE.

          • Shawn Eagle

            Say what about any position? Especially QB?

            The fact still remains that he has played TE…..when and where did he play TE before?

          • Justin Stewart

            “.a high school TE does not translate to a TE in the NFL.” You can say that about any position.

            And depending on your sources, he played TE in high school and was offered a scholarship to play as a TE at Vanderbilt.

            From his Titans profile on

            “Recruited by Vanderbilt as a tight end, he initially committed to the Commodores but then enrolled at Southern Methodist in order to stay closer to home. Under new head coach June Jones, however, SMU employed a spread offense that did not use a tight end, and Thompson decided to make his mark at defensive end.”


            “Thompson was an all-state tight end in high school at Prosper. He was offered scholarships by SMU to play defensive end and Vanderbilt to play tight end. He chose to play close to home, thus putting his tight end skills on the shelf — until November of last fall.”


          • Shawn Eagle

            He was all state his senior year…when Prosper was 3A…slipped past me.

            I bow to the ruler…..JUSTIN STEWART!!!!!

            So then yeah….I totally look forward to him jumping in and playing a very key role in the offense now.

    • Justin Stewart

      Also, while I don’t think Thompson breaks out in his sophomore year, the guy who the Titans are hoping he turns out like (Jimmy Graham) didn’t play an ounce of football until his senior year of college where he saw limited playing time. Graham broke out his sophomore year.

      Not as far fetched as you’d think, though I still think highly unlikely.

  • Modesto Koczwara

    The main reasons why he was let go was because he was misused, but besides that fact he wanted WR money which is beyond crazy since he was not a great blocker to begin with.