The Tennessee Titans didn't place the franchise tag on tight end Jared Cook, but the team has no intentions on losing him to free agency, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
With the Titans working on a new "short-passing game" to help quarterback Jake Locker succeed, Cook is definitely in the team's plans:
Although Cook is eager to test the market, the Titans aren't prepared to let him walk without presenting a strong long-term offer. In fact, one Titans source emphasized to Rapoport at the NFL Scouting Combine, "We are not losing him."
The Titans didn't franchise Cook, 25, because they might have had to pay him as a wide receiver and not a tight end, according to Wesseling. Cook lined up as a wide receiver on 70 percent of his snaps, so the Titans would likely have paid him as such -- a vastly different figure than if he was franchised as a tight end.
The source said the Titans are "counting on the dynamic Cook as a primary read in Locker's progression" next season and going forward.
However, Jimmy Morris at Music City Miracles said the new offense is good reason not to bring back the tight end:
... the fact that the Titans are moving to a shorter passing game is actually a reason to let Cook go. As Josh Gunnels from Titan Sized wrote about here, Cook's strength was never getting open on the shorter routes. The only time he has been dynamic is when he has been able to get down the field.
Last season, Cook played in 13 games and started just six. He caught 44 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns. In 2011 he was a bit better, catching 49 passes for 759 yards and three scores in 16 games.
If Cook does hit free agency, he'll likely get his share of phone calls. Cook is considered one of the best tight ends available on the free agent market this offseason.