The franchise tag deadline will come and go with no event for the Tennessee Titans and tight end Jared Cook. The team will not use the franchise tag to retain his services, says Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. That means that Cook will be free to test the waters of free agency, assuming the two sides do not reach a long term agreement between now and then.
Cook's availability could be good news for the St. Louis Rams, who need skilled players on offense. Jeff Fisher knows Cook from his days in Tennessee; Cook was the Titans' third-round pick in 2009. He's been mentioned before as a potential target for the Rams in free agency.
Tennessee didn't strain themselves using Cook in the offense. His limitations as a blocker factored into him getting less playing time than he would have liked. Fortunately, the Rams need less of a blocker and more of a receiver, which is Cook's claim to fame. He's fast and with good hands. In fact, the Titans used him lined up out wide on 70 percent of his snaps last year, which is part of the reason he's not getting tagged.
Cook's camp argued that he deserved the wide receiver tag rather than the tight end version, a difference of $4 million or so. They vowed to fight it along with the backing of the NFLPA. Wyatt says the Titans didn't want the headache. All in all, it's a pretty shrewd move by Cook's agent to help get his client onto the market.
It's also a good idea of what kind of money he might be looking for in free agency. The Rams are expected to make a splash or two on the market. Cook, who turns 26 in April, fits the bill as a young player that could grow with the team.
Last year, Cook caught 44 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns. The year before he set career highs with 49 catches and 759 yards. He has a catch rate of more than 65 percent over that same two-year stretch. Offensive coordinator could pair Cook with Lance Kendricks, who does block well, to give the Rams a 1-2 punch at the tight end position.