In a media session this morning at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Titans general manager Ruston Webster stated that there will be an open competition at the quarterback position in Tennessee.
Makes sense, because the Titans are firmly committed to two signal callers at separate ends of their careers.
Less than a year ago, the team gave 36-year-old Matt Hasselbeck a three-year, $20-million deal. The three-time Pro Bowler had his best season since 2007 last year, despite lacking an elite receiving target and despite Chris Johnson’s struggles. He didn’t exactly finish the season strong, but still posted over 3,500 yards while completing 62 percent of his passes.
But also less than a year ago, the team invested an eighth overall pick and $13 million in Jake Locker, who was actually remarkably efficient in limited action behind Hasselbeck as a rookie. Despite having “accuracy issues” coming out of Washington, Locker completed a decent 34 of his 66 passes and avoided throwing a single interception while tossing four touchdown passes in five relief appearances.
In the past, there’d be a lot of pressure on a team to get a top-10 pick into the starting lineup in Year 2. But under the new collective bargaining agreement, the financial commitment made to top picks like Locker isn’t as onerous. Money is not a factor here. In fact, if anything, money could keep Locker out of the lineup — Hasselbeck is slated to make more than him in 2012.
I’m on the fence here, because the in-depth stats and the eyeball test indicate that Hasselbeck is an average quarterback at this point — nothing spectacular. But I also saw Locker throw some bad balls in the few opportunities he had last year, and I have no problem with a rookie pivot spending two or more years on the sideline (something the 2011 NFL MVP did for three years). Regardless, I think both deserve a shot at the job in training camp. May the best man win.
What I’m getting at? Forget Peyton Manning, who alone probably wouldn’t be worth the distraction and the cost. I know a lot of Tennessee folk want to see the Volunteer legend come home to finish his career, but there are too many questions surrounding Manning’s health, and they already overpayed for a 35-year-old quarterback last offseason.
Save your money, and invest elsewhere. Start with Cortland Finnegan. Let your current quarterbacks battle it out.