The 2012 season didn't turn out like Jared Cook was hoping for, as the Titans starting tight end struggled with playing time and his overall involvement when he was in the game plan. With his rookie contract finally expiring, Cook is expecting a substantial payday, one the Titans may not be willing to hand over.
Cook was drafted by the Titans back in 2009, and despite the continued promise of a "breakout" season each year, he has yet to really live up to his expectations. He is currently sitting on 131 receptions, 1,717 yards and eight touchdowns for his four-year tenure.
After suffering a torn rotator cuff in December, Cook was placed on injured reserve, ending his season three games short. Health won't be much of a hindrance in his consideration from other teams. He played all 16 games the prior two years. It's his production at this point.
The Titans chose not to franchise-tag Cook after a continue debate over what position he would be considered as. Cook, of course, wanted a wide receiver designation. Tags for tight ends only cost $6.7 million for 2013, but wideouts bring in nearly $4.5 million more.
Tennessee was unwilling to pursue such a debate, ultimately deciding against tagging Cook. Reports indicate the Titans wish to keep him on the roster going forward, but contract disputes, along with a history of underplaying the 25-year-old tight end, will work against those negotiations.
Cook only played 485 snaps in 2012. Take into consideration the three games he missed, and that's still not where he would like to be at this point in his career. Unhappy with his role, Cook was even looking to get out of town in October of this past season via trade.
Look around for current reports on Cook. You'll find he's already drawing plenty of interest from other teams around the league. Cook won't be out of work long once free agency begins. The question is, are the Titans willing to let him walk?
Dustin Keller, Martellus Bennett and Fred Davis encompass a free-agent class that looks relatively deep at tight end. Cook's age makes him an enticing prospect. He has the tools to make an impact if given a chance. He isn't exactly miles ahead of the rest of this group, though.
Owen Daniels signed a four-year deal for a little over $21 million in 2011. Somewhere between the $4-5 million range would make Cook one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league in terms of base salary. He's worth closer to $4 million simply due to his production. He's never caught more than 49 passes in a single season.
We know the Titans want Cook around for the future, but he looks closer to finding a new suitor come March 12.
More in the NFL: