If impending free agent TE Jared Cook is not franchise tagged, he might be the type of player Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles target in free agency.
The Titans have until Monday to tag Cook and there has been strong speculation that they will. However, it hasn’t happened as of this writing and there is certainly no guarantee that it will.
Interestingly, Cook has prepared an argument to be tagged as a wide receiver instead of as a tight end, which would cost Tennessee more money and possibly stop them from applying the tag. This is because he was flexed out as a wide receiver (mostly in the slot) 57% of the time last season, according to a Tweet from Ian Rapoport.
Cook, a former third-round pick in 2009, has excellent size (6′ 5′, 246 lbs), speed (sub 4.5 40) and athleticism (impressive combine performance). In his four year career, he has 131 catches for 1,717 yards and eight touchdowns.
In four seasons with the Titans, Cook has suffered through instability at the QB position where he’s played with Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. He’s also had two head coaches with differing schemes.
Those are possible reasons as to why he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but he is still viewed as a talented player and the Titans don’t really want to lose him.
Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly noted a little while back that he learned that Chip Kelly plans to “stockpile” the tight end position. Mosher, by the way, was the first to “learn” that the Eagles would sign Dennis Dixon well before it actually happened.
If Kelly does indeed want to stockpile tight ends, Cook could certainly be on his radar.
Last season, Kelly’s tight end in Oregon (Colt Lyerla) caught just 25 passes for 392 yards, but scored six touchdowns. Perhaps more interestingly, seven of those catches for 69 yards and five touchdowns occurred in the most important area of the field…the red zone.
With his size and athleticism, Cook could become an excellent red zone option for the Eagles. He caught five passes for 44 yards and two scores last season in that area of the field. While that’s not overly impressive, we could make the case he was misused in Tennessee or that he at least has the potential to be a key contributor.
The Eagles already have a pretty good tight end in Brent Celek, but he is not on the athletic level that Cook is nor does he offer Cook’s versatility. Kelly has used his tight ends as an H-back at times and with Cook’s ability to line up in the slot or on the outside, he could offer Kelly all kinds of options.
If we’ve learned one thing about Kelly so far, it’s that he definitely loves versatile players.
Cook could still end up being tagged or the Titans could make a strong move to keep him. The problem, as always, is money. That could also be the problem for the Eagles as well.
I don’t see the Eagles shelling out big bucks for a tight end when they already have a solid starter in Celek. Cook would be viewed more as a luxury so he’d have to come at the right price.
However, if he makes it to free agency and he’s not demanding a mega-deal, I could certainly see the Eagles being interested.