The Tennessee Titans are poised to make some splashy moves this offseason after new Titans President and CEO Tommie Smith told ESPN “the status quo is unacceptable” and that “we are going to be active” when asked about free agency. No move would make more sense and get more support than signing Pro-Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner to a nice, long deal.
A few weeks ago it looked like Verner testing the free agency market was a forgone conclusion. However, today representatives for Verner, Ropati Pitoitua, and Bernard Pollard met with the Titans at the combine. While this could just be a standard meeting to gauge Verner’s interest on returning, interesting news may give Titans fans new hope on the matter. The NFL salary cap is being raised five percent for the 2014 season. While that may not seem like much, it is big for the Titans.
Now that the Titans know the cap number (roughly $130 million) they can make Verner a substantial offer before he hits the free agent market without fear of pushing themselves too close to the cap ceiling. This also means that the Titans have around $10 million in cap room available right now to make a deal, and that is without cap cuts that could bring the cap space up to $31 million.
Currently, it looks like the best option for both parties would be a deal for five years, $51 million with $30 million guaranteed. This works for a number of reasons:
1. The Titans are only committed to Verner until he is 30, which will likely be about the time that he starts to see a drop off in production.
2. An incentive filled deal that gives Verner a guaranteed $6 million per year is a very good offer for his camp. It prevents him from being left out in the cold in the event of an injury and gives both sides room to negotiate in the future.
3. Verner also won’t have to enter a very deep free agent pool of corners. This deal is likely close to what he would make on the open market anyway and with a new baby he can settle in Nashville.
However, the most important part of this deal for both sides is that Verner will become the face of the Titans. For a franchise that hasn’t had a true leader on the defense since Keith Bulluck, the team and the fanbase crave some consistency. Signing Verner long term gives you a guy to put on billboards and someone to smile for the cameras.
Chris Johnson is likely gone, and a new coaching staff is coming in that has no ties to the Houston Oilers or Titans. Bud Adams has passed away, and it seems that Smith is ready to pull the Titans out of the shadow of Oilers and finally breathe some fresh air into the franchise. That new franchise needs a new face, and Verner can be that guy.