Here’s a hypothetical to consider. Tennessee Titans defensive backs Alterraun Verner and Bernard Pollard are both scheduled to become free agents. Each player had a key role in improving this defense from a franchise-worst 2012-13 NFL season that saw them surrender 471 points.
Let’s say you can only retain one player. You’ll have to replace the other starter with a cheaper free agent, draft pick, or another young player who’s already on the roster. No keeping both, although you can part ways with both.
Does your loyalty and money go toward Verner or Pollard?
Verner will look to capitalize on his first Pro Bowl with a nice payday. In 2012, the Titans re-signed No. 1 cornerback Jason McCourty to a six-year, $44.26-million contract with $17 million guaranteed. That’s more than seven million per season for a cornerback who has never been recognized as a Pro Bowl talent. When Cortland Finnegan departed in 2011, the St. Louis Rams signed him to a five-year, $50-million contract with $27 million guaranteed.
It’s fair to project that Verner will cost somewhere around $6-8 million per season—at least. Keep in mind that the Titans have three young cornerbacks (Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tommie Campbell) who’ll compete for promotions.
There isn’t as much safety depth. Losing Pollard would leave this defense with Michael Griffin, a 33-year-old George Wilson, and probably Daimion Stafford, Khalid Wooten and any free-agent / draft additions competing for a starting job.
Let’s compare the statistics between Pollard and Verner. Please note that the top stats are Verner and the bottom stats are Pollard:
One player is admired for his aggressiveness and willingness to speak out when nobody else will. The other player is loved within the community and appreciated from local bloggers because of his openness to conduct interviews with sources outside the main media outlets.
Will a new defense play into this decision? Regardless of a three or four-man front, defensive coordinator Ray Horton will want his defensive backs to play aggressive. Don’t expect the alignment to give an advantage to either Verner or Pollard.
Keeping Verner and/or Pollard isn’t the biggest offseason decision. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty important. The Titans have approximately one month to make their decision on both players. They could allow them to test the free-agent market and then determine whether they’re willing to meet their price tags.
Titan Sized wants to know who’s the higher priority between these two defensive backs? Answer in the poll below and discuss in the comments, Twitter or Facebook.