Tennessee Titans Rumors & News

Potential Candidates For Panthers GM Job

To the surprise of many, the Panthers are in search of a new general manager. It’s too early to know who will be in the mix for the job, but speculation is already rampant among those in the know. Here are the early potential candidates for Carolina:

  • Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner spent eight years in Carolina as a scout and could be among those considered, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. Kirchner interviewed for the Colts and 49ers GM positions earlier this offseason before they went to Chris Ballard and John Lynch, respectively.
  • Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Panthers director of player personnel Don Gregory are two names to watch, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Cowden was among those to interview for the Chiefs vacancy this summer and spent 16 years working for the Panthers before joining Tennessee.
  • The Panthers’ highest ranking personnel executive left in the building Mark Koncz, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. He was promoted to personnel director in May from pro director.
  • It’s “just a hunch,” but Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter) wouldn’t be surprised if former Chiefs GM John Dorsey ultimately becomes the Panthers’ next GM.
  • The Panthers likely going to go with an interim GM rather than rush to a decision one month before the season starts, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets. With that in mind, former GM Marty Hurney makes some sense. Hurney, who was relieved of his post as GM during the 2012 season, currently works for ESPN Radio in Charlotte. Under his watch, the Panthers drafted some of the team’s biggest stars, including Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis.

ESPN: Titans Best AFC South Bet Long-Term

  • Arguing a team other than the Colts was in the best long-term position in this division seemed fruitless for several years, given Andrew Luck‘s Indianapolis employment. But with the Colts having changed their management structure after having not made the playoffs behind their talented quarterback the past two years, the Titans appear to have usurped them as the long-term team of the moment here. The NFL Nation’s AFC South contingent at ESPN.com suggest the Titans are, in fact, positioned best for long-term success. Of course, Tennessee hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008, but the presence of Marcus Mariota, an upward-trending offensive line and some weapons added this offseason helped the franchise move into this position.

Latest On Tajae Sharpe Assault Accusations

Back in May, Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe and offensive guard Sebastian Tretola were accused of assault in a federal civil suit. Now, according to WKRN.com, the duo is countersuing the accuser, stating that he initiated the confrontation and the two players were purely acting in self defense.

Tajae Sharpe (Vertical)The individual, Dante Satterfield, claimed that Sharpe and Tretola had beaten him until he was unconscious outside of a Nashville bar. Sharpe allegedly “took exception” to Satterfield’s comments about recent Titans draft pick Corey Davis, with the accuser reportedly stating that Sharpe’s playing time would now be reduced. After leaving the bar, Sharpe allegedly punched Satterfield in the face while Tretola kept watch. The individual claimed that he suffered from broken bones in his face, a perforated eardrum, and a concussion, leading to him asking for $500K.

In their countersuit, Sharpe and Tretola are saying that an intoxicated Satterfield continued to harass the duo inside the bar. When the duo eventually left, the individual followed them outside, threatening them and claiming to be in a gang. The two players admitted to “roughing up” the accuser, but they were adamant that their actions were in self defense.

The two players are asking for a jury trial and damages. The duo has not been charged, and Metro police recently said that their investigation was wrapping up.

“When my client sued Mr. Sharpe, his agent told the media that Sharpe ‘wasn’t even there at the time [my client] was allegedly beaten up,’” Satterfield’s attorney said in a statement. “In today’s court filing, Sharpe changes his story entirely and says he was there but acted in self-defense. We are confident that an impartial jury will be able to make out what actually happened that night.”

As our own Dallas Robinson wrote back in May, Sharpe could be in danger of not only earning a league-imposed suspension, but losing his roster spot altogether. Roster Resource lists Sharpe as the Titans’ fourth receiver behind Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Davis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Offseason In Review: Tennessee Titans

Even though the Titans extended their playoff drought to eight years in 2016, the team made noticeable progress for the first time in a while. The Titans matched the Texans at 9-7, only finishing behind the AFC South champions because of a tiebreaker, and ranked a division-best 13th in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. After his club nearly broke through last year, Titans general manager Jon Robinson spent the offseason making meaningful upgrades on both sides of the ball.

Notable signings:

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Robinson’s most recent splash came last month with the signing of wide receiver Eric Decker, who unexpectedly fell into the Titans’ laps after the rebuilding Jets released him. A shoulder injury limited Decker to three games last season and kept him out of the Jets’ lineup for the final three months of the campaign, but there’s no indication that it’ll hamper him going forward. That means a Tennessee offense which finished 2016 atop the league in red zone touchdown percentage should continue to be a force inside the opposition’s 20-yard line.

The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Decker has been a major threat near the goal line throughout his career, and he’s second only to ex-Jets teammate Brandon Marshall in red zone TD receptions since 2012 (33). The 30-year-old figures to mesh beautifully with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who dominated in the red zone with 18 TD passes and no interceptions during his initial two years in the league.

When he signed with the Titans, Decker became the fourth potentially significant passing game weapon Robinson picked up for Mariota this offseason. The executive struck three times in the draft, using high selections on two wideouts – first-rounder Corey Davis and third-rounder Taywan Taylor – and another on tight end Jonnu Smith (Round 3). Of course, the headliner is Davis, who went fifth overall after surpassing 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons at Western Michigan. Interestingly, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com likens Davis to Decker, calling the 6-2, 205-pound rookie a “touchdown juggernaut.”

With Decker, Davis, Rishard Matthews and Taylor serving as the top four in their receiving corps and Smith joining the prolific Delanie Walker at tight end, Mariota has an enviable supply of aerial options on hand. Plus, the dual-threat signal-caller should again be a key contributor to a top-tier rushing attack. DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Mariota ran behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line and led a ground game that finished third in the league in rushing and fourth in yards per carry in 2016. Murray and Henry remain in the fold, as does the Titans’ starting O-line from last year, which is an unfortunate reality for opposing defenses.

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Jeff Fisher Hopes To Coach Again

Even after more than three decades of coaching in the professional ranks, it doesn’t sound like Jeff Fisher is done with the NFL. At least, he hopes that the NFL is not done with him. In the final episode of Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series chronicling the 2016 Rams, Fisher made it known that he wants to get involved with coaching again. 

[RELATED: Jeff Fisher Discusses Firing, Extension, Jared Goff]

I want to get back on the sideline,” Fisher said (via PFT). “Not going to happen this year, obviously. We’ll just see what happens.”

The Rams went 31-45-1 under Fisher’s guidance through four-and-a-half seasons. For his career, Fisher owns a head coaching record of 173-165-1, giving him a not-so-impressive .512 lifetime winning percentage. Fisher has never won a Super Bowl and has not guided a team to the playoffs in nearly a decade, so he might not seem like a particularly sexy coaching candidate.

However, Fisher does offer tons of experience and he is extremely well connected through the league office. As Mike Florio notes, those connections could help him get in the door with an indecisive owner.

Fisher might be able to sell himself to one of the league’s 32 teams (or, perhaps, to one of 30 clubs) as a veteran coach who has six postseason appearances to his credit. The pitch may satisfy an owner out there, but it’s unlikely to energize a fanbase.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Not Pursuing Zach Orr

A number of teams are interested in Zach Orr, with his agent relaying that about half of the league has contacted him regarding the linebacker. Some teams are standing pat, though. The Titans appear to be one of them. Tennessee is content with its linebacker situation, and according to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com (on Twitter), has not reached out to Orr. The Titans have Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard penciled in to start on the inside of their 3-4 scheme. That’s been the team’s arrangement inside for the past three seasons, since Woodyard migrated east from Denver, and it looks like the team will roll with this duo for a fourth campaign as Williamson enters his contract year.

  • ESPN.com’s Field Yates recalls Jon Robinson enduring scrutiny for only getting reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly from the Eagles in last summer’s Dorial Green-Beckham trade (Twitter link). Now that Philly cut Green-Beckham after one season, the second-year Titans GM’s decision doesn’t look so short-sighted. A former fifth-round pick of the Andy Reid-era Eagles in 2012, Kelly played in 145 snaps last season and suited up for all 16 Titans games. DGB’s talent will make him one of the more interesting waiver cases in recent years, but he’s now seen two NFL teams give up on him after one season. This comes after he transferred to Oklahoma only to sit out his junior year in 2014. The last time Green-Beckham played for the same team in consecutive seasons was during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Missouri.

Chiefs Request Interviews With Two Execs

The Chiefs have requested permission to speak with Titans Director of Player Personnel Ryan Cowden and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer for their GM job, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). If permission is granted, then the executives will become the first outside candidates to interview for the vacancy.

On Monday morning, we learned that Vikings executive George Paton declined the opportunity to be considered for the Chiefs job. In theory, that means that Cowden and Fitterer will have a little less competition for the position, provided that they are actually looking to take the job.

Fitterer has been in the mix for multiple GM jobs, including the Colts and 49ers earlier this year. He was also being considered for a top job with the Eagles before removing himself from consideration. The Seahawks have enjoyed great success in recent years, particularly when it comes to building through the draft and discovering talented undrafted free agents. While John Schneider oversees the operation, Fitterer and Trent Kirchner have been instrumental in building the roster.

After 16 years with the Panthers, Cowden was hired by the Titans in 2016 to oversee all areas of the scouting department, including collegiate scouting, NFL scouting, advance scouting, and international scouting for the draft, free agency, and upcoming opponents. Titans GM Jon Robinson offered glowing praise of Cowden at the time of the hire.

When I was first hired by the Patriots, Ryan was promoted by Carolina to handle the Southeast and we cut our teeth together in that region scouting,” Robinson said. “We were both learning the ropes, going to many of the same places and had a lot of interaction through the years on the road. He has a strong eye for talent, he has developed good managerial skills over the years and in the team-building process it will be nice to get his take, as they have put together very good teams there in Carolina over the years.”

Tajae Sharpe's Roster Spot Could Be In Jeopardy

  • As a rookie last season, fifth-rounder Tajae Sharpe finished second among Titans wide receivers in catches (41), targets (83) and yards (522) in 2016. Nevertheless, it seems he’ll enter camp with a weak hold on a roster spot, writes Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. The Titans used two valuable picks on receivers – Corey Davis in the first round and Taywan Taylor in the third – in the spring and then signed established veteran Eric Decker last week. Those additions combined with Sharpe’s questionable health (he recently underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot) and a police investigation over an alleged assault have the 22-year-old in limbo, according to Wolf.

Eric Decker Contract Details

  • As Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported yesterday, Eric Decker‘s one-year contract with the Titans can be worth as much as $5.35MM, and today Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details exactly how Decker can reach that figure. In addition to his $2.5MM signing bonus and $1.35MM base salary, Decker can earn another $150K in gameday active roster bonuses. Additionally, Decker can get $250K if he scores four touchdowns, per Florio. He’ll receive $125K for every 10 catches starting at 30 and maxing out at 70 (netting him as much as $625K), and can earn another $125K for every 100 yards receiving starting at 450 and maxing out at 850 (potential total: $625K).
  • A one-year deal is seemingly never a bad investment, but some single season pacts are more valuable than others, leading Field Yates of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) to examine the best one-year contracts handed out this offseason. Decker is the most recent signee to make the list, as he’s expected to act as a veteran presence on a young Titans receiving corps. Other featured players from the NFL’s South divisions include Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe ($10MM), Chiefs defensive tackle Bennie Logan ($8MM), and Colts wide receiver Kamar Aiken ($5MM).

Details On Eric Decker’s Titans Contract

New Titans wide receiver Eric Decker‘s one-year contract can be worth as much as $5.35MM, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). Decker will receive a $2.5MM signing bonus, a $1.35MM base salary, and up to $1.5MM incentives, per Pelissero.Eric Decker

Decker, 30, had been scheduled to earn a $6.5MM base salary with the Jets in 2017, so while he won’t be able to match that figure with Tennessee, he’ll have the opportunity to come close if he meets all his incentives. While it’s unclear exactly what totals Decker needs to reach in order to unlock his incentives, the bonuses are likely tied to receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and/or the Titans team performance. Because Decker only managed nine receptions for 194 yards last year, any incentives are probably considered “not likely to be earned.”

Decker’s contract stands in contrast to fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin, who received a two-year, $11MM deal from the Ravens. Maclin, 29, is expected to earn $6MM in 2017, and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported that Maclin’s pact doesn’t contain much “funny money.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.