Buy-in doesn't matter to Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans nearly as much as everyone believes.
For example, last year around this time everyone was praising Nate Davis for the work that he had put into getting leaner and completely committing to the offseason program in an effort to stay on the field as much as possible. In fact, the Tennessee Titans were putting out articles praising him for his efforts and including quotes from Davis and his position coach.
He was bought in and committed to being the Tennessee Titans' long-term starter at right guard. His career was off to a good start too because since taking over the starting job as a rookie in Week 4 of the 2019 season, he started in 43 out of 46 games over the next three years and he missed those three games with concussions.
This would be the healthiest season of his career because he was putting in the work...right? Nope, he missed four games in 2022 with different lower-body injuries and was ultimately put on I.R. despite his best efforts in the offseason.
After all of that buy-in, consistency, and play that ranged from good to great, the Tennessee Titans just let him walk.
Despite Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans thinking that guard was such a crucial position that they would eventually spend the 11th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Peter Skoronski, the Tennessee Titans let Nate Davis walk in free agency on a reasonable deal.
Cut to the end of 2022 where Mike Vrabel called out David Long Jr. and Kristian Fulton for being injured because they weren't working out hard enough while he praised Kevin Byard for never missing time. A few months later the Titans let Long walk for pennies on the dollar which isn't a great sign for Fulton's future in Tennessee.
Making things even more confusing, they asked Byard to take a pay cut and the situation has gotten so bad that Byard is currently skipping OTAs despite being in Nashville.
If you are Kristian Fulton, what are you supposed to do in that situation? The typical fan response is that he should show up to OTAs to show his commitment and do his job, but is that really the best thing for anyone?
This is the best thing for Fulton and the Tennessee Titans
Every Tennessee Titans fan should be incredibly skeptical that the training staff which did a historically poor job in 2021 and 2022, can do anything to prevent injuries. Maybe they will figure it out and do things a better way, but according to all reports, the Titans are doing things the exact same way that they did last year, so that looks like a long shot.
Heading into OTAs, Fulton was going to need a tremendous season to have a chance at being re-signed by the Tennessee Titans who haven't been too worried about keeping their talented players over the last few years anyway. No matter who is wearing the GM hat, Mike Vrabel's thumb is always on the scale in those negotiations.
It is in everyone's best interest for Fulton to have his best possible season this year. The Tennessee Titans get a year of good cornerback play and they could tag him or re-sign him if the relationship mends itself. Fulton obviously wants to have a big season because it means a big contract for him at one of the premier positions in the NFL.
But, for Fulton to have a good season he needs to stay healthy. No team in the NFL has used more players over the last two years (133) than the Tennessee Titans, so staying away from the training staff that made that stat a reality is the smartest thing he can do for everyone involved.