Tennessee Titans: Gambling with their future
By P. L. Colter
Two months ago the Tennessee Titans drafted Marcus Mariota to be their franchise quarterback. Less than 24 hours after the selection, Mariota’s face could be found on the team’s official website, welcoming a beleaguered fan base to a new era of Tennessee football.
Head coach Ken Whisenthunt followed suit, and immediately named Mariota the starting qb for the upcoming season…ending month’s of speculation regarding the future of incumbent starter Zach Mettenberger.
The Titans organization had no problem with promoting Mariota, but paying him seems to be a whole different issue.
Rookies are allowed to participate in the offseason program without a contract, but not training camp. Mariota is the only unsigned first round draft pick. And if you ask General Manager Ruston Webster, it’s no big deal.
While on the Midday 180 radio show in Nashville earlier this month, Webster had this to say regarding Mariota’s contract situation…
“I personally don’t see there being a major issue. … I don’t concern myself too much with it if a guy misses a few days.”
Not a surprising quote from Webster, after all, he was heading the negotiations with Kendall Wright and Chance Warmack, two other first round picks that missed the start of camp their rookie year because of a contract dispute.
But this is a different animal. This is your supposed-to-be franchise quarterback. A player that you’ve publicly stated will start day one. Rookie contracts are slotted now.
So what’s the hold up?
ESPN Staff Writer Paul Kuharsky reported that the hang-up could be offset language in the contract. Offset language basically determines if, and how much a player gets paid from the team if they were to release him down the line.
I understand this is a business and all, but players that are drafted number 2 overall usually receive those types of concessions. If he’s the face of the future, then Tennessee should have no problem giving in to Mariota on that.
Yes, things could go awry, leaving the Titans with the tab, but that’s years down the line. And you were 2-14 last season.
Time is of the essence.
Mariota missing the start of camp would be the lead NFL story nationally, putting a public spotlight on Tennessee, and their previous frugal behavior. As the outcry increases, the team usually caves in anyway.
Meanwhile, your rookie face of the franchise qb is missing critical starter reps…with a short window of time before the season opener.
Mariota missing the start of camp also changes the narrative. Instead of focusing on the optimism that a new season provides, the storyline becomes…
“Where is Mariota? How long do you anticipate this dragging out? Can Mariota get caught up to speed when he reports? Will Zach Mettenberger be the starter now?”
Instead of coming in day one with the sole purpose of getting ready to lead his team, Mariota would have to address question after question about his contract, and when (or if) he’ll report to camp.
The good will and positive momentum gained this offseason would be all but forgotten.
And for what?
This is a critical year for the Tennessee Titans, they can’t afford to botch this…squabbling over a few dollars they may or may not have to pay Mariota down the line. If you are truly committed to turning this thing around then prove it.
Make sure Mariota reports to camp on time.
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