Following his subpar sophomore performance, Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker needs all of the weapons in the passing game he can get if he’s ever going to develop into a franchise passer. With that being said, the Titans must keep tight end Jared Cook around.
Luckily for Locker, that’s the plan.
According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans are planning on slapping Cook with the franchise tag on Monday. The distinction would pay Cook the $6.066 franchise number for tight ends, but he is expected to fight for the $10.537 million receiver number.
Throughout the 2012 campaign, Cook was used more in the slot or out wide than in-line as a traditional tight end. The majority of his snaps came standing up, which bodes well for his argument to be tagged as wide receiver rather than a tight end. The extra $4.471 million will make him a happier man, something that the Titans want if they hope to sign him to a long-term deal in the near future.
Last year, Cook hauled in 44 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns before ending the season on the Injured Reserve list with a shoulder injury. He averaged 11.9 yards per reception, down from 15.5 in 2011, but still was an instrumental part of the Titans passing game. He will take on a similar role in 2013 assuming the franchise tag is in his foreseeable future.
Cook has been coveted as one of the top potential free agent tight ends. Especially with the inconsistency that wide receivers Kenny Britt and Nate Washington have shown in recent years, the Titans would be wise to keep their pass-catching tight end off of the open market.
At this point, the Titans have tight ends Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson and Brandon Barden under contract for 2013. While Stevens is a tremendous blocker, his receiving skills aren’t at the level of Cook’s. Thompson is a project after playing defensive end in college and Barden is facing DUI charges.
It’s pretty clear as to why tagging Cook is the right move for the Titans moving forward.