The Tennessee Titans already have signed their first free agent, taking advantage of a salary cap move to add safety George Wilson to their defense.
Before they dive into free agency in March, they face one of their biggest challenges in keeping tight end Jared Cook off the market. Doing that means signing him to a new deal by Friday or tagging him as a franchise player.
"We feel he's a big part of us having success next year is having him in the offense and using him in different ways ... with the changes we made on the offensive side of the ball," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "We feel can give him an opportunity to catch more balls and be more productive and maybe have him be more efficient with the plays he's in there."
The Titans have a handful of players heading for free agency including kicker Rob Bironas and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. But Munchak, speaking at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, described the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cook as someone the Titans feel very strongly about keeping.
Munchak is in a must-win mode in his third season after going 6-10 in 2012. He has swapped up his coaching staff, including bringing in Gregg Williams as a senior assistant for defense.
Tennessee started adding players Friday by agreeing to a reported two-year deal Friday with Wilson, released Feb. 11 by Buffalo to avoid his $2.9 million salary. That's the first step in adding more talent and experience to a defense that had too many injuries and too much youth as the Titans allowed a franchise-record 471 points.
Cook is key for an offense where quarterback Jake Locker got hurt in the first game and showed little development in his first season as a starter.
"Jake's done a good job," general manager Ruston Webster said. "He has all the talent to be a fine player. One of the things we have to do is have more consistency around him."
Team officials wanted to talk with Cook's agent during the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Cook's agent, Christina Phillips, didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Saturday.
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