Dec 15, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (99) celebrates sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) (not pictured) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
This time next year, we will all be debating what the Tennessee Titans should do with stud defensive tackle, Jurrell Casey.
Indeed, this could be his final season in Nashville, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after next year’s play has ceased.
In 2013, Casey emerged as one of the core building blocks for the foundation of Mike Munchak’s defense. The third-year man out of USC recorded 10.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.
Plain English: Those are good numbers for an interior defensive lineman.
The hiring of Ken Whisenhunt as head coach, and Ray Horton as defensive coordinator has, in some ways, presented more questions than answers.
Over the course of the Munchak regime, players were signed and drafted to fit a certain style and philosophy….the latter of which seems to have changed drastically with the hiring of the current coaching staff.
The Titans’ 2015 free-agent class presents an opportunity for a mass exodus from this franchise. Akeem Ayers, Colin McCarthy, Jurrell Casey, Michael Roos, David Stewart, Nate Washington, Rob Bironas, Jake Locker, and Brett Kern round out a class of players who could potentially be leaving Nashville as free agents.
Diehard Titans have developed a certain perception of the Titans organization over the past decade and a half: that they are cheap….that they don’t pay for free agents, and they don’t lock down their talent.
Was the Jared Cook situation a total fiasco? No. He was an underachiever in his first year in St. Louis (surprise, surprise). He made some excellent plays during his tenure in Nashville, but he also earned a reputation as more of a “potential” guy than a “results” guy.
Still, why would a team spend $35 million-plus to lock a guy down for five seasons? Because he’s an asset. He was an asset to the Titans before he entered the free-agent market, just not on the football field. The athletic prowess Cook exhibited made his potential the true asset, because that potential should have given Tennessee something to deal to his suitors.
But, most decision-makers in the league felt that Cook would walk away from the Titans regardless of what was offered. So, why give up draft picks when you could wait and make him a straight-up offer?
The same is happening with Kenny Britt. The fifth-year wide receiver out of Rutgers was rumored to have been dangled about on the trade market in 2013; however, the entire NFL community knew this was his last season as a Titan…so nothing happened.
So, the theory is floating around the Nashville sports community that Ruston Webster and company would be wise to consider trading Casey while he is at or reaching the pinnacle of his career.
Let me just hit the bullet points for both sides of this conversation:
The case FOR trading Casey
-What if he doesn’t fit the 3-4 scheme we’ve been promised to see the Titans run in 2014? Then, he walks as a free agent and we’re all looking back at this time thinking we could’ve received something for his departure.
-What if he asks for too much money when his contract expires? Or, what if another team presents an offer the Titans simply can’t match? Then, like the first scenario, he walks, and we’re empty-handed.
The Titans do pay him, and it costs twice as much as it would now, leaving the team with less cap space to work with in the future.
The case AGAINST trading Casey
-He’s arguably the best player on the Titans defense. His talent is the type you can mold a defensive line around. His attitude is the type that rubs off and shapes an entire defense. He’s great for productivity and for culture. Do you really want to send a message that that kind of status won’t be rewarded?
-What if he does transition well to the 3-4? Not only do you have a tremendous asset as the cornerstone of your defense, but you won’t have to alter your coaching style at all.
-You have the opportunity to see what he can do in a new system this season without having to pay the upper-echelon free-agent price tag.
While there’s clear logic on both sides of this argument, I think the idea of trading Casey is rooted in paranoia of offseason blunders. For so long, Titans fans have been the harshest critics of the franchise’s transactions…saying the team is cheap, they let stars walk, they don’t bring in adequate talent, the coach only shoots for field goals, we need offense, we need this, we need that…you catch my drift.
I’m for signing Casey long-term. He has the talent to be an NFL star, and it’s up to the coaching staff to slot him where his talents are best utilized. And besides, great regimes don’t achieve greatness by trading away their best players.
Let’s let this rumor die down and try to shake away some of the “cheap owner” conspiracies of yesteryear.