JOE BIDDLE: Titans Jared Cook will take his potential elsewhere

JOE BIDDLE: Titans Jared Cook will take his potential elsewhere (Image 1)

Odds are heavy that Titans fans have seen the last of Jared Cook.

Look for Cook to take a lucrative offer from another NFL team and place his name on a rather long list of gifted Titans draft picks that looked every bit the part, but fell short of expectations and never reached their potential.

Potential? Cook is loaded with it. So was Ben Troupe, who could leap over tall buildings and would-be tacklers. So was Tyrone Calico, who could run like the wind, but was maddeningly inconsistent.

The Titans took Cook in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. Troupe was the Titans first draft pick in 2004, taken in the second round after the Titans traded their first round pick to Houston.

Calico was drafted as a wide receiver in the second round in 2003. Like the others, Calico had NFL size, speed and athletic potential.

There's that word again. Potential. Two of those high draft picks had it. None of them took it to fruition here and washed out of the league leaving behind critics to answer how and why they fell short of expectations. Will Cook follow?

There has been debate whether Cook is a tight end, or a wide receiver. I've always thought he was a wide receiver trapped in a tight end's body.

The rap on him when he played for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina was that he could make highlight reel catches, but would often drop what were deemed routine catches. Cook came there as a wide receiver, but as a redshirt sophomore had physically grown into a tight end. He also was not very adept or interested in blocking like tight ends are asked to do.

Those traits followed Cook to Tennessee and will likely leave with him when he signs with another NFL team. Other teams will be captivated by Cook's size, speed and, yep, potential.

The best explanation of potential is you haven't done anything yet, because if you had lived up to your potential, you would no longer have potential.

Cook still has potential.

Last season, when Cook openly complained that he was not highlighted in the Titans offense, he caught 44 passes for 523 yards and only four touchdowns. A player with his size should be a prime target in the red zone.

During his four years here, Cook had eight touchdowns.

He ranked No. 24 last season in receptions by tight ends. He is no Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Heath Miller, Vernon Davis, Jimmy Graham or Brandon Myers.

The Titans planned to put a franchise tag on Cook. That would give him a one-year contract, the salary based on the average of NFL tight ends. That would put him in the $6 million category.

Ah, but Cook claimed he was not the tight end the Titans drafted. He was more of a wide receiver, at times lining up in the slot and hopefully running wide receiver routes.

If declared a wide receiver, the franchise tag would escalate to the $10 million range. That would have been a significant raise for the same player.

Rather than risk putting out $10 million for a tight end that has only eight touchdown receptions in four years, the Titans allowed him to leave as an unrestricted free agent and test the waters.

The Browns, with new offensive schemer Norv Turner, have already publicly announced interest in Cook. Other teams will be swayed by a player who looks like Tarzan, but sometimes plays like Jane.

As a tight end, Cook averaged 11.9 yards a catch. Nothing special, but then offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was let go during the season and former quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains moved to offensive coordinator where he will start next season.

Too bad Cook won't be here to play in a system that Loggains will install. If he ever reaches his potential, it will be somewhere else.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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