Sep 22, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (30) and cornerback Alterraun Verner (20) celebrate after Verner (20) made the game winning tackle against the San Diego Chargers during the second half at LP Field. The Titans beat the Chargers 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Seems like I read somewhere the Tennessee Titans didn’t plan on using the franchise tag this offseason?
A lot of writers and fans had assumed that the franchise would tag either Alterraun Verner or Bernard Pollard to keep the team’s solid secondary intact. However, it appears as though the Titans will move forward while allowing the 2014 franchise tag to drift into oblivion.
Allow me to point out a couple of really good reasons for this that you might not have thought of at first.
Primarily, not using a franchise tag means you can offer your free agents what you want to based on your own in-house evaluations. You aren’t tied to any league-mandated salary requirements, and are free to sign who you want, and let go of who you need to.
In Verner’s case, that means you aren’t paying around $11 million for a No. 2 cornerback. No offense to ATV, but Jason McCourty is the guy who will be lining up against the elite receivers week in and week out.
Second, you pay your scouts to evaluate talent, and your coaches (partly) to develop draft picks.
You want to be able to let players walk if you can’t reach a deal and suffer as little damage as possible. So, in essence, not using a franchise tag is a pretty good validation for the work you’ve done in prior offseasons.
It’s not only a review of the talent you have on the field, but the talent you have on the sideline. Not only do you have the benefit of the “next man up” scenario, but you trust that the people in place can develop a replacement.
This is some “full circle” stuff….
You trust your staff to not only develop young talent, BUT to properly assess the value of free agents in question.
When you hear that Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are ready to contribute on Sundays (and believe it), you’re also likely to believe that Verner is not worth $11 million.
From the perspective of an executive in the NFL, not using the franchise tag would show the signs of a stable franchise with a good “farm system” in place…meaning they can withstand the threat of free agency and injuries.
If my point hasn’t come across clearly enough, this is a good thing for the future of the Titans organization. Ruston Webster & Ken Whisenhunt are certainly showing us that the Titans not only have depth, but that the identity of this team isn’t tied up in one person.
But let’s look at this from a player’s perspective as well.
This whole article has probably read like an indictment of Alterraun Verner, but I promise that’s not the case.
He had a breakout season in 2013, and he absolutely deserves to test the free agent market.
Life in the NFL can begin and end with the bat of an eye.
So, when you have an opportunity to make a big pay day, you want to capitalize on that. You certainly don’t want to get “trapped” somewhere.
For Verner, his play on the field constituted the right to choose his destination based on where he could make the most money, or where would be the best fit for him. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, this may be his only window to squeeze in a max contract.
He isn’t going to be stuck on a one-year deal, not knowing if he’ll be healthy enough to get a long-term deal next offseason.
While I certainly want to see him stick around, he’s earned the right to choose, and if he finds a better situation providing more money for himself, then good for him.
Overall, I don’t think there’s anything but positivity to take away from this discussion.
Happy offseason, Titans fans.