Like Jevon Kearse a week ago, Justin McCareins decided that coming back to the site of his greatest NFL success was too good to pass up.
McCareins agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday that is worth around $1 million.
The move reunites McCareins, originally a fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2001, with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, whom he played for in Tennessee and for one season with the New York Jets in 2005.
McCareins, 29, blossomed in Heimerdinger’s offense with the Titans, catching 47 passes for 813 yards in 2003 before being dealt to the Jets for a second-round pick. McCareins’ best season in New York came his first year there when he caught 56 passes in 2004. The Jets released him at the start of free agency this year, and that move gave McCareins the chance to return to Nashville.
“Once he visited down there with Coach Heimerdinger and Coach [Jeff] Fisher, he knew that was where he wanted to be. He knows the offense, and he wanted to get in right away and be a part of the off-season program,” McCareins’ agent Cliff Brady said.
When he visited the Titans last Thursday, McCareins at that time expressed a strong interest in returning to the team he began his career with and reuniting with Heimerdinger.
“I owe him a lot in terms of me developing as a receiver. I don’t think I would have had any success without a guy like him kind of guiding me and fine-tuning me as a player,” McCareins said last week.
Heimerdinger too was pleased to have McCareins back in the fold.
“I am excited to have him back. Justin gives us someone who can catch it, make someone miss and get yards after catch,” said Heimerdinger. “He also gives us some toughness in the run game, digging out defensive backs.”
According to Brady, Washington, Chicago, Carolina and Miami had inquired about the former Northern Illinois standout.
The Titans have been trying to upgrade a wide receiver corps that was in need of playmakers for quarterback Vince Young after the team threw just nine touchdown passes in all of 2007.
McCareins joins a crowded group of receivers that includes Justin Gage, Roydell Williams, Brandon Jones, Chris Davis, Biren Ealy, Mike Williams and Paul Williams.
“Justin is a strong, physical receiver that has the ability to get downfield and has a lot of playing experience,” Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “There is obviously a comfort-level from both sides with his previous time here, and he adds depth to the receiver group.”
The signing possibly takes the Titans out of the free agent market for more wide receiver help, though it could still be addressed in the draft.