Taylor Lewan is the headline grabber on the Titans’ offensive line and Rodger Saffold gets a lot of attention too (congratulations on his first Pro Bowl), but for years the most consistent player on the line has been Ben Jones.
Year in and year out, center Ben Jones tops the list of offensive snaps for the Tennessee Titans. Don’t confuse that consistency with dumb luck on the injury front, because even when Jones is banged up he still manages to take nearly every rep in every game. Beyond that, Jones is so committed to being on the field that he hardly ever misses a snap in practice.
The only reason why a deal isn’t completely inevitable is that Ben Jones will turn 33 this summer, and it is hard to judge just how much to pay a 33-year-old center when changes are certainly coming to the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line.
Luckily, there is one recent deal that may shed some light on a fair deal for both sides.
The blueprint for a Tennessee Titans, Ben Jones deal
Looking back over the last several seasons, there has only been one starting center that has gotten a new contract after they turned 32. That deal was the deal between the San Francisco 49ers and Alex Mack.
If the Tennessee Titans are looking for a starting point in contract negotiations, then this is the perfect blueprint.
Mack has a 3-year deal worth nearly $15 million, that is structured like this:
Year 1: $3 million cap hit
Year 2: $6.7 million cap hit ($4.3 million in cap space if cut)
Year 3: $5 million cap hit ($3.9 million in cap space if cut)
The Tennessee Titans have plenty of ways to manipulate their cap this season whether that means outright cutting players or restructuring deals, so there it isn’t like the team is so close to the cap that they have to be ultra-conservative in free agency.
If the Titans wanted to, they could re-sign Ben Jones to an identical deal, cut Kendall Lamm, and then still end up with about $100,000 more in cap space than they had to start with.
Jon Robinson has plenty of options, but I have a hard time thinking that he would let Ben Jones walk into free agency and be a value signing for another team without having a clear replacement behind him.