Kerry Collins made it clear on Wednesday that he would love to remain a Tennessee Titan beyond this season.
But he also said his recent ascension to the starting quarterback role has rejuvenated him to the point that it could be difficult to return as a backup.
Collins, a free agent after the 2008 season, said there had been some preliminary talks about his return during training camp when he was still the second-stringer behind Vince Young. Since then, circumstances have changed a bit with his promotion to the starting lineup, and Collins said he would prefer to wait until after the season to make any decisions, so as not to cause any unneeded distractions around the team.
“There’s been a little talk, but it was mainly in training camp,” Collins, 35, said. “Certainly a lot of things have changed since then. I’m probably more inclined to kind of wait till the end of the season to see how things play out, because at this point in my career, it’s going to be hard for me to back up anymore. It really will.”
Collins was given the green light to be the starter for the balance of the season in Tennessee by Coach Jeff Fisher as long as the team continues to win, and has made the most of the opportunity. The Titans are 4-0 and Collins has completed 47 of 83 passes for 577 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and a passer rating of 81.3.
Collins, who has been in Tennessee since 2006, said his recent spurt of success has helped to refuel the fire for him wanting to start again and remain a starter.
“After sitting for two years and now being the starter, I know I can still do this at a high level, and to me, it’s going to have to be a starting job, or I’m going to have to make some decisions on what I’m going to do,” Collins said.
The rigors of off-season work and training camp are not what they used to be, and Collins said that sort of preparation and effort might be difficult if he were in a situation where he knew he was not going to play.
“I think going through training camp, it’s getting to the point now for me, to go through the off-season, it’s getting questionable to me whether or not it’s worth it just to back up,” Collins said. “I feel like my abilities are the abilities of a starter, and after how everything has gone, from being a backup and not playing, and knowing I can do it, and knowing I can do it at a high level, it’s going to be hard for me to go back to being a backup.”
Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt acknowledged that preliminary discussions with him regarding an extension had occurred in the preseason, and said Collins is a player the Titans value, though he did not specifically say in what role.
“Kerry is a good player for us,” Reinfeldt said. “He’s a guy that we’ve always valued and would like to keep him here and have him here in the future. He’s a valuable guy for what we do.
"We have 13 guys that are up [at the end of the year], so I’m not going to comment specifically on any of those individuals.”
Collins said being the Titans’ starting quarterback and continuing to play in Tennessee is a situation he says he truly enjoys.
“I would love to stay here. I really would,” Collins said. “I love playing for Jeff. I love playing in Nashville. I really feel like I fit well as a part of this team. Having said that, who knows what’s gonna happen. Certainly, I think I’m better off just waiting till the end of the year and seeing how it all plays out.”
Asked if the Titans offered a contract extension now if a promise to compete for the starting job next season accompanied it, Collins said, “That would definitely be something I would consider.”
For now, Collins will put his future on the backburner and concentrate on being the quarterback of what has the early look of a bona fide contender. The contract talks will likely have to wait.
“I don’t think this is the right time [to discuss it]. It’s a lot of speculation, and I’m not worried about it, and I’m focused on what I need to do. All I’ll say is I’d love to stay here,” Collins said. “I don’t want to burn any bridges and I don’t want to close any doors. I’m open to discussing anything, but I’m not so sure this is the right time.”