By Brady Henderson
There was some speculation that the Seahawks might be interested in Jared Cook last season when reports surfaced that the Titans' tight end was seeking a trade.
The Seahawks' potential interest in Cook is again relevant now that Cook could be headed for free agency after the Titans declined to name him their franchise player before Monday's deadline. Tennessee can still sign Cook to a multi-year contract, but according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, "indications are the two sides are far apart" on a new deal.
At 25 and coming off his first contract, Cook fits the description of the free agents the Seahawks have preferred under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks like to use two-tight end sets featuring Zach Miller and another capable pass-catcher. They had that desire in mind last offseason when they traded for Kellen Winslow after losing John Carlson in free agency. Anthony McCoy assumed that role once Winslow was released before the season.
Cook has 131 catches for 1,717 yards and eight touchdowns since entering the league as a third-round pick out of South Carolina in 2009. He caught 44 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games last year before a torn rotator cuff ended his season.
Brock Huard discussed Cook in Tuesday's edition of "Blue 42", saying the Seahawks' assessment of the tight ends in this year's will factor into their interest level in Cook.
Here are three more things to consider:
Miller's contract. Miller is scheduled to make $6.8 million in base salary next season while carrying an $11 million cap figure. That's a steep price considering Miller's production the last two seasons – 63 catches for 629 yards and three touchdowns. Miller's contributions as a blocker – a factor in his limited production as a receiver – and his stellar performances in two playoff games last season make it harder to imagine the Seahawks cutting him in a cost-saving move, especially considering all of their available cap room. Attempting to restructure his deal is much more likely, and that could put them in better position to spend money on another tight end like Cook.
Confidence in McCoy? The Seahawks' confidence in McCoy will have some bearing on whatever decisions they make at tight end. McCoy has ideal size and athleticism for the position, but injuries and inconsistency – most notably dropped passes and penalties – have held him back. He made strides during his third NFL season, catching 18 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns while serving as the No. 2 tight end. His 16.17 yards-per-catch average led the team. But are those totals and his potential enough to keep the Seahawks from seeking an upgrade? Probably not.
Cook's pricetag. According to Wyatt, a dispute over whether Cook should be considered a tight end or a wide receiver for franchise tag purposes complicated the Titans' efforts to tag him. The franchise figure this year for tight ends is $6.066 million, but Cook's camp argued that he should be paid as a wide receiver given the percentage of snaps in which he lined up in the slot or out wide. The figure for receivers is $10.537 million this year. Will that be the number Cook seeks as an annual average on a multi-year deal? If so, would that be too rich for the Seahawks given the money they're already committing to Miller?
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share additional thoughts on Cook and the Seahawks' tight-end situation in the video below.
You can listen to Tuesday's show here.