Titans sign WR Gage to multi-year contract

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 11:35pm

The Tennessee Titans kept one of their potential unrestricted free agents in the fold, signing receiver Justin Gage to a multi-year contract on Wednesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gage was signed last season by Tennessee to a one-year deal and enjoyed a career year, catching 55 passes for 750 yards after coming over from the Chicago Bears. The 55 receptions tied Roydell Williams for the team lead. Gage had caught just four passes in his final season with the Bears in 2006.

“Justin is a player who made the most of an opportunity and we expect him to be a significant contributor to our offensive success,” said Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt. “He can play outside or inside, has the ability to make tough catches and should continue to grow as a receiver as he and Vince [Young] play together more.”

Of Gage’s 55 receptions in 2007, 45 of them – 81.8 percent – resulted in first downs, a figure that ranked behind only Terrell Owens and Brandon Stokley in the NFL.

CRUMPLER VISIT: Tight end Alge Crumpler was in town visiting the Tennessee Titans today, the first of his stops in free agency, and his agent James Williams and Reinfeldt will likely continue to talk.

Crumpler was in town to meet with the Titans, take a physical and tour the team’s facility.

The former Atlanta Falcons standout had 42 catches last season in a year where the Falcons were largely unsettled at quarterback in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting arrest.

Because he was released from his contract, he is allowed to sign with a team before unrestricted free agency opens on Friday.

MCCAREINS INTEREST: Former Titans wide receiver Justin McCareins is interested in returning to the team.

But the question now appears to be how much interest the Titans have in him coming back.

McCareins, a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2000, was released Tuesday by the New York Jets, the team Tennessee dealt him to after the 2003 season. He was let go along with one-time Titans cornerback Andre Dyson.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Titans had not called to inquire about McCareins, 29.

“We haven’t heard from them yet, but I know that’s a team Justin has interest in. There’s familiarity, plus [offensive coordinator Mike] Heimerdinger is back there. Justin has mentioned the Titans a couple of times to me,” agent Cliff Brady said.

McCareins thrived in Heimerdinger’s system as a third receiver with 46 catches his final year with the Titans in 2003. McCareins caught 56 passes in his first season with the Jets in 2004, and was reunited with Heimerdinger for one season there in 2005, catching 43 balls.

Once Herman Edwards and his staff were fired in New York, McCareins fell into a reserve role with new coach Eric Mangini and had only 42 catches total the past two seasons.

“For whatever reason, Mangini just didn’t seem to like him. He had two good years there before Mangini came in,” Brady said.

Even though they re-signed Gage Wednesday, the Titans are still expected to look for receivers in the free agent market when it opens on Friday. Last year, the team had some interest in trading for McCareins, but nothing serious ever materialized.

BROWN READY: For the second year in a row, Titans running back Chris Brown is ready to test the free agent waters. Brown found himself seldom used in 2006 and wound up coming back to Tennessee on a one-year deal.

Brown, 26, backed up LenDale White in 2007, and had a career-high 175 yards rushing in the season opener in Jacksonville. He finished with 462 yards on 102 carries, despite missing time with a high ankle sprain.

“We’ll take a look and see what’s what,” agent Ryan Morgan said. “If you look at it, there were a lot of injuries at the position last year, and Chris also had more of an opportunity to show what he could do, even though it wasn’t a full-time opportunity. Everybody knows he can run ball effectively, catch the ball and never misses a block.”

DEADLINE: The Titans have seven restricted free agents they must offer tenders to by today’s deadline. Those include kicker Rob Bironas, tight ends Bo Scaife and Casey Cramer, defensive backs Vincent Fuller and Reynaldo Hill, offensive tackles David Stewart and Daniel Loper.

Of that group, Stewart and Bironas are likely to be tendered above the $927,000 minimum.

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