Jan 23, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner (20) at practice for the 2014 Pro Bowl at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It appeared as if the Tennessee Titans had moved on from Alterraun Verner. Maybe they did. But after seeing him get snagged at just more than $6.5 million per season? They may regret not aggressively pursuing the 2013 Pro Bowler.
Experts were projecting that Verner could demand at least $8 million per season. After contracts were finalized with Brent Grimes (four years, 32 million), Sam Shields and Vontae Davis (four years, $39 million), speculation had increased projected demands into the double-digit range. Shields proved that even borderline No. 1 cornerbacks were going for approximately $10 million per season.
The Titans already pay Jason McCourty as a shutdown cornerback. In 2012, McCourty received a six-year, $44.26 million contract (rotoworld). They’ve had past success with finding mid- to late-round gems who blossom into top-tier cornerbacks. Among that group are Verner (4th), McCourty (6th) and Cortland Finnegan (7th). Hoping to join that group: Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson or even Tommie Campbell.
Did the Titans want Verner or were they satisfied with the status quo minus him? According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, here’s what Verner had to say about the team’s offseason approach toward him:
"“I can understand why (the Titans) did what they did from a business standpoint. I feel like they wanted me to come back, but I wasn’t really a strong piece. I didn’t feel like they felt me being there or not was going to make a big impact on the team. So I guess I just wanted to go to a place where I felt wanted, and appreciated more. It was good they didn’t give up on me … and I appreciate that. But I feel like this was best for me and my family.”"
Just read in-between the lines and one can see that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have much greater value for Verner. Likely, Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is expecting him to replace Darrelle Revis in his Cover-2 scheme. Compare that to Tennessee, who had Verner in a training camp competition with seventh-round project Campbell. That competition came after three solid seasons as a role player and No. 2 cornerback.
Rarely will the Titans overpay for their own players. Arguably, one of the few exceptions was Chris Johnson, a player who at the time was coming off his strongest three seasons and about the only player that offered significant national recognition with his star power. Johnson hasn’t lived up to his contract. Blame it on him, the offensive line, play-calling, schemes, injuries—it hasn’t happened. That’s an example of overpaying for a player and it didn’t turn out as well as expected.
Losing Verner will sting for awhile, however, he isn’t irreplaceable. The Titans can use that money toward other needs or future extensions with Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan, etc.
Best of luck to Verner at his new home. He may feel wanted now, however, let’s not forget that, just one year ago, Tampa Bay wanted Revis at his six-year, $96-million contract extension. Hope things work better for Verner than they did for Revis. At least, Verner seems like a better fit in Smith’s zone-based defense.