When Keith Bulluck cleaned out his locker after the Tennessee Titans’ divisional playoff loss to Baltimore, he was asked about his long-term future with the club.
Bulluck has become a fixture on the field at outside linebacker, a go-to guy in the locker room for media interviews and a stalwart in community activities.
But after nine years with the Titans, he will enter what could be his final go-around with the club in 2009.
Bulluck, who turns 32 in April, says he would like an extension to stay in Tennessee beyond the upcoming season when his current contract is set to expire, but knows that right now, the front office has other more pressing issues, such as the decisions on impending unrestricted free agents Albert Haynesworth, Kerry Collins, Rob Bironas and Bo Scaife.
“I only have one more year on my deal, that means if I played next year, and I get hurt in camp, that’s my last year,” Bulluck said. “From the business standpoint, I’d definitely like to have some more years on the back end, but they have other players to worry about right now, other players to sign. We’ll see.”
The Titans have plenty of cap space and no set replacement waiting in the wings and being groomed to replace Bulluck once he is finished. But linebackers in their early 30s often are viewed suspiciously by the front office, no matter how productive they are.
The front office’s tendencies over the years with players they are intent on keeping has been to extend their contract just before the season begins, as was the case with vital young players like Michael Roos, Cortland Finnegan and David Stewart his past summer.
Currently, Bulluck is scheduled to have the highest base salary on the team at $5.5 million for 2009. That’s not an unreasonable figure for a team with more than $30 million in cap space, but it does beg the question of what to do with Bulluck, who surely is looking for one more big payday in Tennessee or elsewhere before he leaves the game.
There is no rush, but no dialogue in that direction has yet been opened.
“I haven’t had any talks with them yet,” Bulluck’s agent Gary Wichard said via telephone from the Senior Bowl.
As for Bulluck, he is taking it in stride and readying to be a Titans at least in 2009.
“I don’t know. You never know,” Bulluck said. “I still feel I’m playing at a high caliber, All-Pro, Pro Bowl level. I do have one year left on my deal. That’s for my agent and the organization to talk about. I plan on being here. Why wouldn’t I be?”