Jared Cook has gotten his wish. After the Tennessee Titans declined to use a franchise tag on their tight end, Cook will officially become an unrestricted free agent unless he signs a contract before Mar. 12.
The Titans were prepared to use the franchise tag on Cook. Those intentions changed when he threatened to challenge his designation as a tight end. He believes that he’s a wide receiver. Whereas a tight end receives approximately $6.066 million when he gets the franchise tag, a wide receiver gets approximately $10.537 million.
Is Cook a tight end or wide receiver? According to Yahoo! Sports NFL expert Jason Cole, Cook was used as a wide receiver (slot and outside) on 79.4 percent of his offensive snaps. That includes times that he was lined up as a slot receiver or outside receiver.
So what’s the big deal? It doesn’t sound like management has to replace a tight end; Cook was barely playing there anyway. What they’re replacing is someone who was stealing playing time from a stable of wide receivers that include Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright. Need a big receiver? The 6’5” Michael Preston is an option.
Losing Cook’s 44 receptions and 523 yards won’t kill the Titans. They can easily replace that with a healthy, motivated Britt. Of course, Britt must stay healthy—and out of trouble—to take advantage of this opportunity.
Where do Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson fit in Dowell Loggains’ offensive scheme? If Loggains needs a true tight end (not over-sized WR) who’s better in the passing game, the Titans may want to consider unrestricted free agents such as Martellus Bennett, Fred Davis or Brandon Myers.
It’s worth noting that the Titans didn’t lose Jared Cook for nothing; they will get a compensatory pick. Furthermore, they don’t have to deal with a frustrated player who demands midseason trades and more playing time. No reason to keep a player who desperately wanted out of Nashville.