…and we’re not talking about the draft.
With free agency less than 24 hours away, the Tennessee Titans have a number of questions to answer at some of their most important positions. QB Kerry Collins is looking for a starting job, but has made it clear that he wants it to be with the Titans. Tennessee seems to be willing to let him test the market with the feeling that there won’t be a better situation for Collins than the one he’s already in. Supposedly, Kerry is waiting to see what Arizona Cardinals’ QB Kurt Warner (also a UFA) will get, but he probably knows better than to think he’ll fetch the $10-plus million that Warner will. And if he does get it, don’t expect it to be from the Titans.
It’s also looking like DT Albert Haynesworth will get an opportunity to test market, but we obviously shouldn’t expect Big Al to miss out on the payday that Collins more than likely will. It looks as though the Titans are getting closer to accepting an existence post-Haynesworth, which is probably not a bad idea if $100 million is what it would take to hold on to the All-Pro. We say the Titans should put one more offer on the table to Hayneworth and agent Chad Speck (check your inbox) in the next day before the Titan’s “exclusive” window to negotiate ends, at least to placate the fan base and make it look like they tried. Drums please…
5 years/$65 million with $33 million in guaranteed money.
No, it’s not quite as exciting as $100 million, or even $75 million, but it does contain a couple of interesting selling points. While Jared Allen’s 6 year, $73.26 contract (signed last off-season) could end up being more lucrative, only $31 million of that is guaranteed. If Haynesworth were to sign what we suggested, he would receive the most guaranteed money for a defensive player in league history, and would make more money per season than Allen as well. Haynesworth has repeatedly said that he wants to stay in Tennessee. He has also said that he wants to be the highest paid defensive player in football. Titan Sized’s newest proposal (we left it on your voice-mail Chad, so holler at us when you get an answer) would do just that. That’s our “hometown discount”. He will almost assuredly receive an offer bigger than that though, so we shall see pretty soon just how bad Al wants to stay in Titans blue.
And since we’ve already come to grips with “LAA” (life after Albert) we figured that we would throw out a number of possible destinations for Haynesworth:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs have been gutting the organization ever since Jon Gruden was let go last month and Raheem Morris took over as head coach. Today, the Bucs continued their youth movement by cutting a number of veterans, including LB’s Derrick Brooks and Cato June, RB Warrick Dunn and WR’s Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard. Four of those five are younger than the new head honcho. The releases will also clear more than $10 million in salary cap space for a team that is already close to $50 million under the projected cap ($123 million). The money is there to offer Haynesworth, and even though Tampa isn’t Tennessee, it’s pretty darn close.
Washington Redskins – The Skins are always big players free agency, so expect Dan Snyder to open the checkbook yet again this year. They don’t have nearly the cap space as other teams do, but they have already begun re-negotiating current players’ contract (Andre Carter, Antwaan Randle El, Chris Samuels and Cornelius Griffin) to make room for free agency. Is it Haynesworth they’re making room for? One has to imagine that if their are already rumors of a contract in place for Haynesworth (BTW, how was that steak Chad?), that Snyder has been dreaming of #92 eating up running backs as he sleeps softly on his bed of money. If the number is indeed somewhere in the $100 million range, there’s no way that Haynesworth re-signs with the Titans. With all of that said, the Redskins probably won’t be able to pull this off because of their salary cap issues.
Jacksonville Jaguars/ Houston Texans – Both of these teams seem like long shots, but they have a few things in common that could make them attractive to Haynesworth. First, and most importantly, they should have plenty of money to offer. Secondly, both teams are close to home, in a division that Albert is very familiar with (which would also give Haynesworth the opportunity to make his former employer pay at least twice a season). Finally, both of these teams might only be a couple of key additions away from being playoff contending teams. Say, maybe the best defensive player in football? Most players like to take credit for turnarounds, deservedly or not, and if Haynesworth does what he did in Tennessee, he could make that kind of difference.
Other possible destinations: Detroit Lions (the $$$ and Jim Schwartz are there, but Detroit is quite a hike from Knoxville and the Lions are the worst team in football), Cincinnati Bengals ($$$, location, but organization is a joke), Arizona Cardinals ($$$, good team that needs defensive help but way out West), Philadelphia Eagles ($$$, good team in great division, but also a haul from “The Marble City” ).
So that’s it. That’s where the Titans stand with free agency looming at the stroke of midnight on Friday. There’s also a number of key role players that the Titans hope to retain (Chris Carr, Vincent Fuller, Brandon Jones and Daniel Loper to name a few). There’s even been some talk of reuniting former Titan wideout Drew Bennett, who was just released by the Rams, with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger (if so, please tell us that Justin McCareins won’t be back). Hopefully we’ll wake up tomorrow and both Haynesworth and Collins are signed to contracts that pretty much ensure their careers end (happily) in Tennessee. That’s a whole lot of wishful thinking, but if the Titans can comfortably keep those two and solidify a few other spots through free agency and the draft, then there is no reason to believe that they won’t be able to build on what they started last season.
Tags: 2009 NFL Draft AFC South Albert Haynesworth All-Pro Andre Carter Antwaan Randle El Arizona Cardinals Brandon Jones Cato June Chad Speck Chris Carr Chris Samuels Cincinnati Bengals Cornelius Griffin Dan Snyder Daniel Loper Derrick Brooks Detroit Lions Drew Bennett Free Agency Houston Texans Ike Hilliard Jacksonville Jaguars Jared Allen Jim Schwartz Joey Galloway Justin McCareins Kerry Collins Knoxville TN Kurt Warner Mike Heimerdinger Nashville TN New Orleans Saints NFC East NFL Draft NFL Free Agent Deadline Philadelphia Eagles St. Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennessee Titans Tennessee Titans Free Agency UFA Unrestricted Free Agent Vincent Fuller Warrick Dunn Washington Redskins