After one of the most exciting and significant off-seasons in Tennessee Titans’ history, training camp is finally around the corner. Between positional competitions, coaching changes, and several new pieces, there are a number of interesting storylines that all Titans fans should keep an eye on this summer. The plan is took examine a new one each day until camp arrives.
Unfortunately, this series of post has to start off on a bad note. Unsurprisingly, the Titans are going to be the last team to sign their first round draft pick. Every year, if the Titans are not dead last, they are certainly one of the last teams. In the past, it has even led to players like Kendall Wright and Chance Warmack missing valuable time. However, General Manager Ruston Webster "doesn’t concern" himself with rookies missing a few days of camp. That all sounds nice and composed, but maybe Ruston and company should go ahead and re-consider their approach since their football team has not exactly been successful for years now. Also, specifically regarding Marcus Mariota, if someone has to actually explain to any front office member the importance of your starting quarterback, not to mention your *rookie* starting quarterback, being in camp on time so that he can put in as much work as possible, then the team might as well start posting openings for front office positions on Craigslist.
The issue at hand in offset language. Essentially, if Mariota is released before his rookie deal is up, he would be able to "double dip" from a contractual standpoint, getting paid by the Titans and another team. This has only happened with Jamarcus Russell when it comes to top quarterbacks in their draft class, and he didn’t even get the opportunity to sign with another team. If Mariota busts on that level, it will be low on the list of concerns for this front office. Interim CEO Steve Underwood explained to Paul Kuharsky yesterday that the team was not willing to budge because of the precedent that it would set for future negotiations. He said that "keeping the offset in place is something we want to be able to do going forward. And the minute you back away from the contract principle then you no longer are able to assert it going forward."
I couldn’t think of a worse way to start off what should be a very long term relationship with Marcus Mariota. It completely blows my mind that a team would actually even consider starting things off so poorly over what will likely end up being an insignificant issue. It’s clear that the team has core values, and that is fine, but if it crosses over into something that is much more important and hurts the chances of the franchise being successful, than it is time to re-evaluate.
Marcus Mariota missing any time would be absolutely unacceptable. Even if Mariota’s side is the first to budge, the Titans have already lost. Yet again, they come across as a poorly run organization with at best questionable decision making. Running Tommy Smith off and replacing him with Steve Underwood has not done much, if anything when it comes to how the franchise is run from the top down. I’m not sure how anyone could trust them to make the right hire for the next CEO, given their track record.
We can only hope that eventually Marcus Mariota signs his contract before camp so that he does not miss any time. You can say that it is a non-issue all you want, but if every other team can get it done—heck, Jameis Winston’s contract was signed on day 2 of the draft—why is it so difficult for this organization? We’ll just have to wait and see if Mariota is under center on July 31st.