Cook had been the top candidate among their 17 pending free agents for the designation. But a dispute loomed over what position Cook actually pays over the difference between the $6.06 million this season he would have been due if the Titans used the franchise tag on him as a tight end compared to the $10.5 million a receiver designated a franchise player receives in 2013. Losing that argument over what position Cook plays would have made him the highest paid player on the Titans, topping the $10 million
Cook, whose salary was $615,000 in 2012, has 131 catches for 1,717 yards with eight touchdowns in his career.
Tennessee traded its second-round pick in 2010 to draft Cook at No. 89 overall in the third round in 2009 out of South Carolina. He had his best year in 2011 with 759 yards receiving, and he is a big target at 6-foot-5, 248 pounds. He wasn't happy with the offense last season and had asked to be traded before offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired Nov. 26.
Cook tore his rotator cuff Dec. 9 against Indianapolis and needed season-ending surgery.
Bironas was the other player the Titans might have designated as their franchise player. He signed a four-year, $12 million contract in February 2009, which paid him $2.85 million in 2012. Any kicker designated as a franchise player is due $2.97 million in 2013.
Now Tennessee's second all-time leading scorer, Bironas had 110 points in 2012 and tied Al Del Greco's franchise record set between 1995 and 2000 with his sixth straight 100-point season. He wrapped up his eighth season as the third-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history connecting on 85.6 percent of his kicks, and only David Akers has made more field goals since Bironas entered the NFL in 2005.
But Bironas missed six field goals in 2012, including five between 40 and 49 yards.