The Tennessee Titans continued what many perceive to be a sterling offseason with the extension of star DT Jurrell Casey.
Followers of these pages will note that we’ve highlighted Casey as the standout on a recently mediocre defence. His prowess has perhaps been slightly underappreciated, despite Pro-Bowl nods, due to the Titans status as an afterthought in the AFC South over the past few years. Now, as the team is beginning to ascend with strong drafting and free agent signings, they have sewn up their star player to a contract worthy of his production and potential.
Casey has amassed 33 sacks in his career and provides a key piece on a D that has not been blessed with consistent pass rush off the edge. The deal is reportedly worth around $60m over four years with c.$40m in ‘guarantees’ (let’s not get into the debate about what that actually looks like once you get into the minutiae of the deal).
So far, so normal. Why then a comment piece about it? Well, Casey still had two years to go on his current deal, itself an extension. Teams aren’t always clamouring to sign guys when they have that much leeway in terms of time however Jon Robinson is proving himself to be unafraid to move aggressively when he feels it’s in the best interest of the team. Signing Casey long-term squarely sits in that category.
In Houston last offseason, DeAndre Hopkins sat out (incredibly briefly) as he tested the waters on getting a new deal that far in advance. It didn’t work. Now, defensive stalwart and ascending superstar, Aaron Donald of the Rams, and elite LT Donald Penn of the Raiders are both sitting out their respective training camps trying to leverage a new deal. Donald is into the fifth year option of his rookie deal and wants a new one rather than playing for a (for his talent and worth) meagre $1.8m. Penn is rather more well-compensated coming into the second year of a two year deal on which he is scheduled to earn $7m+. But with the recent escalating price of top-tier O-line play, not least the contracts dished out to his two teammates Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson, Penn feels he needs to cash in.
In Pittsburgh, Le’Veon Bell is not keen on playing on the Franchise Tag, despite it netting him $12.1m for the season. That’s a different scenario to that facing Casey in Tennessee but just highlights that situations can get messy as teams don’t re-up guys towards the end of their deal.
If Casey had not signed and come into the next offseason with only one year to go, it might have helped him earn a few more dollars if the Titans got nervous about him hitting FA. Or he could have landed on the tag the following year and faced uncertainty. These things can get messy.
So the Titans prioritised a key, core leader on their team and delivered a great contract which protects them and him. It causes no fuss and speaks to a thought-through strategy well executed.
Maybe it is time to get excited about the Titans. With a front office making all the right moves, it allows the team to focus on the field. That’s a nice place to be.
piccredit: USA Today