Report: Titans unlikely to pick up option on Locker's rookie deal

By Ryan Wilson |

This could be Jake Locker's last season with the Titans. (USATSI)
This could be Jake Locker's last season with the Titans. (USATSI)

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It was something of a surprise when Ken Whisenhunt passed on the Lions job to become the Titans coach, mostly because Detroit seemed much closer to a playoff team than Tennessee. More to the point: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush have the makings for an explosive offense while Jake Locker, Kendall Wright and Shonn Greene do not.

But Whisenhunt has replaced Mike Munchak in Tennessee, which means he's tied his wagon to Locker, the 2011 first-round pick who has struggled with injury and inconsistency during much of his brief career. Turns out, this could be a one-year arrangement; according to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt, the Titans aren't likely to pick up the option year on Locker's rookie contract, and that means that, barring a miraculous 2014 season, he could be a free agent next March.

Behind Locker on the depth chart: Charlie Whitehurst, who was Philip Rivers' backup in San Diego last season (where Whisenhunt happened to be the offensive coordinator), Tyler Wilson and Rusty Smith. Not exactly a depth chart that screams experience or NFL competence.

While none of the mock drafts reflect it, maybe the Titans should be in the quarterback business with their No. 11 pick. There are myriad other needs, for sure -- the latest mock drafts have Tennessee taking outside linebacker Anthony Barr, wideout Mike Evans and cornerback Justin Gilbert -- but without a legit franchise quarterback, not much else matters.

But the Titans might not be in love with the Big 3 -- Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater -- in which case they could focus on finding a quarterback in the later rounds. Wyatt suggests taking a fourth or fifth-round flyer on Georgia's Aaron Murray, and if he's not there "draft someone else." Wyatt adds: "The Titans can afford some patience as Locker tries to entrench himself."

Put another way: The Titans don't trust Locker enough to pick up his option now, but if he plays well in 2014, they'll consider giving him a new contract. It doesn't speak to the organization's confidence in the former first-rounder, but Locker has shown little in three seasons. After watching the Jets overpay Mark Sanchez a few years ago (not to mention the Titans do the same with Chris Johnson, who could be released any day now), patience is the best course of action.

Still, we remain confused as to why Whisenhunt didn't take the Detroit gig. Maybe that decision says more about Stafford than Locker.

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