That's because, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, the Titans won't use the franchise tag this offseason. The Titans confirmed that they wouldn't tag Cook -- or any potential free agent -- shortly before the deadline.
And apparently because they didn't want to fight Cook over his classification.
The TE/WR debate was something the #Titans didn't want to fight through arbitrator— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 4, 2013
Cook spent much of 2012 split out (Pro Football Focus calculates that Cook was split out in 70.5 percent of his total snaps, including penalties, with 25.6 percent coming from the tight end position). He's a dynamic pass-catching option at tight end, but he's not exactly the, um, best blocking tight end. (That's being generous.)
The concern for them is that utilizing the tight-end tag on Cook would cost them $6.066 million. If Cook took them to arbitration and won, they would owe him the amount due for a franchise-tagged wideout ($10.537 million).
So Cook is going to head to free agency and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has already got a logical destination in mind for him:
with Jared Cook hitting free agency, look for the Rams (with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher) to pursue strongly— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 4, 2013
Sam Bradford and the Rams need weapons and Cook is very much a weapon. He won't stop anyone from getting to Bradford and he won't help the run game when it comes to blocking, but he's a definite weapon.
Cook, our 32nd-ranked overall free agent, should draw plenty of interest on the open market. Provided, of course, he's not looking for elite wide-receiver money.