Ruston Webster is not free to talk about Peyton Manning.
Based on a conference call with season ticket holders on Tuesday, it sounds as if the Tennessee Titans new general manager is not interested in talking to Manning either, even if — as expected — the only four-time NFL MVP becomes available in early March or sooner.
“We’re excited about our quarterback situation,” Webster said. “I think Matt [Hasselbeck] brought us through a difficult time, especially once we lost Kenny Britt last year. I think everybody saw a glimpse of Jake Locker and … we’re real excited about his future.
“Obviously Peyton’s a great player but we feel like we’re in good hands.”
Manning currently remains under contract with the Indianapolis Colts. He is due a $28 million roster bonus on March 8 and the Colts are in position to draft Andrew Luck out of Stanford with the first overall pick in April. That combination, the thinking goes, means Manning will be released and will be available to sign with any team.
“Obviously a great player in the league, unfortunately because he’s under contract [with Indianapolis], I can’t talk about him,” Webster said.
The Titans used their first-round pick last season on Locker, who was the second quarterback drafted overall. He spent the entire season as Hasselbeck’s backup. He completed just 51.5 percent of his throws but threw four touchdown passes in 66 attempts with no interceptions.
His passer rating of 99.4 was better than that of Hasselbeck (82.4), who played through arm and calf injuries. He signed as a free agent last summer after 10 seasons as a starter with Seattle.
The Titans also have Rusty Smith, who was a sixth-round pick in 2010.
Coach Mike Munchak has said he expects the two to compete for the starting job in training camp this summer.
“We like our quarterback situation,” Webster said. “We’re very happy with our quarterback situation and what the future holds with Jake, and then what Matt’s done for us.
“With any position, we always look at getting better. So it will always be something we look at, but we have a lot of places we have to get better. We like our quarterback situation and the three guys we have there.”
Other issues addressed by Webster:
• On attempting to re-sign some or all of the 17 Titans scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 13: “We’ll make an effort to definitely do that. … You’re not going to get them all done. You have to make some hard decisions, but we’re going to give it a good shot.”
• On specific dealings with potential free agent Cortland Finnegan: “I spoke to his agent briefly at the Senior Bowl, just talked to him for a minute. We’re still kind of going through all that, making decisions on what we want to do with all of our players free agency-wise, including him.”
• On the team’s current status in relation to the salary cap: “I believe we’re around $35 million under the cap and in pretty good shape that way. … Mike [Reinfeldt] has done a good job of managing that cap through the years.”
• On what the team potentially might do with its first-round pick (20th overall): “There’s good group of defensive linemen and linebackers.”
• On wide receiver Kenny Britt’s progress in rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery: “Kenny’s been working hard and he’s coming fast, probably even a little faster than I thought he would. We expect to have him out there for the start of training camp.”
• On the thinking toward making personnel changes on defense: “We’re looking at all positions and I really want to upgrade us all the way through defensively and try to get better at each spot. … What we want is to be like the old Titans defense. We want to play tough, fast and physical.”
• On efforts to improve the run game: “That needs to be a focus of our offseason and it is. We’ll look at all facets — our offensive line, our running backs and what we’re doing scheme-wise.”