Brandin Cooks could revolutionize Titans' three-wide set

INDIANAPOLIS -- If the Tennessee Titans make a deal for New Orleans Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, which Chris Mortensen reports could happen, Tennessee can diversify targets for Marcus Mariota.

Mortensen said the Titans could give up No. 18 for Cooks or swap the fifth pick in the draft plus one or two others for the Saints’ No. 11 pick.

Cooks just completed his third year with the Saints, who drafted him in the first round in 2013 out of Oregon State.

He caught 78 passes for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016.

Greg Cosell of NFL Films reviewed Cooks and how he’d fit with the Titans for "The Midday 180" radio show on 104.5 FM in Nashville.

“He makes really good sense,” Cosell said. “He was a Z receiver, the shift guy, the motion guy. The key thing and why the player would be a good one is there is a vertical element to Cooks. He can get over the top of a defense from multiple alignments. He’s very good run after catch.”

If the Titans had Cooks, Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe as their top three receivers, Cosell expects Cooks would be the Z receiver who motions, Matthews would be the X splitting out widest and Sharpe would work in the slot.

Tennessee ran the third-fewest snaps in the league with three wide receivers on the field last season. But Cosell believes they need to diversity and be able to do more out of that personnel grouping.

“We know they want to line up in there base, with two backs or two tight ends or three tight ends,” Cosell said. “They are good at that. We’ve seen them be very effective running the ball out of that and having some success in the pass game out of that.

“But I think they need to be better [out of their] three wide receiver and I think that’s what a Brandin Cooks can really do for them.”

Why are the Saints willing to move him?

Said ESPN NFL Nation Saints reporter Mike Triplett: “I think it’s a case where the Saints feel like they could get a ton of value for Cooks and still be able to replace him and keep thriving on offense [similar to their Jimmy Graham trade two years ago]. They have more glaring needs on defense. 'Although Cooks is much more than just a speedy 'clear-out' receiver, they could probably find one of those much cheaper. And they really like 2016 rookie WR Michael Thomas. Chances are they won’t pay them both huge money long-term.”

Here is Triplett on the Saints having to make a financial decision on Cooks, and here’s a post on Sean Payton recently saying he expects Cooks to stay in New Orleans.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday that recent film review revealed the depths of the Titans’ inconsistencies at receiver regarding splits, alignments and route depths.

Then he hit on the basic requirements of the job for Tennessee.

"They’ve got to be able to get open and they’ve got to be able to catch the ball, period,” he said. "And I’ll add they have to block, too.”