It has been well documented that the day of reckoning on Vince Young’s future with the Tennessee Titans is scheduled for 2010.
That’s when Young’s salary cap number jumps to more than $14 million, thanks in large part to a $7.5 million base salary in the fifth year of his original six-year contract. Young also has a base salary of $8.5 million scheduled for 2011.
But Young’s agent, Major Adams, told The City Paper that he and Young might be willing to lower that cap number in an effort to remain on the team, if something agreeable can be worked out.
“We haven’t had any communication yet. Vince is just concentrating on the season. I think that depends on after this year,” Adams said. “We’re willing to talk about his cap situation, but I believe it’ll be after the season.”
Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said the club has not yet had any internal discussions about Young’s salary, his long-term future with the team or even a number that might be palatable to the club.
“It’s too early. It’s not something we’ve addressed at all. I think we’ll see as we go through the season how it goes. I can’t tell you the specific time now,” Reinfeldt said. “We haven’t really addressed it internally, so I can’t really tell you what it would take to make that happen.”
Certainly, the cloudiness of the current labor agreement, which could cause an uncapped year in 2010 and a potential work stoppage in 2011, might complicate the situation.
Also factored in could be starter Kerry Collins’ own future. Collins agreed to a two-year, $15 million extension in the off-season, but would be approaching 38 years old when his current contract expires.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher has said previously he still expects Young to be the team’s quarterback again at some point in the future, but when that future might be is anyone’s guess.
For his part, Young said he wants to remain a Titan, but simply wants to play again and contribute to a winning team if or when the opportunity arises.
“It’s not about the money. It’s not about that. I just want to play football and win. If it’s here, that’s great. If it’s not here, that’s out of my hands,” Young said. “But if it’s here, I’m going to be definitely excited and enthusiastic to get out here and play with my teammates and things like that. But anything else, that’s way over my head right there.”
Beyond that, Young says he will concentrate on football and leave the contract wrangling to Adams and the Titans front office.
“You’ll have to ask them. I stay out of that. He [Adams] knows what I want, and they know what I want, and that’s basically what I told him. Anything else that goes on upstairs, I have no say-so,” Young said.
If Young and Adams elect to reduce the quarterback’s cap number before next season, the move would not be unprecedented. The San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Alex Smith agreed to a pay cut back in March that allowed the club to avoid a huge cap hit, reducing the final two years of his contract from a reported $24-plus million to a more manageable $8 million.
Former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly, who passed on Young to choose Mario Williams in 2006, said the Smith situation made sense for the 49ers and could be an option for the Titans and Young, if they want to work something out.
“They went into this year, and they couldn’t assure him he would be the starter. So what they did was they reduced his contract. They got a mutual agreement for Alex Smith, and that’s something that made sense,” Casserly said. “The precedent there is with San Francisco. He had a high cap number, but they wanted to keep the guy, wanted him in camp and he was going to compete for the starting position. So it made sense for both sides, because it was the best place for him to be.
“I’ve been involved in salary cuts, and sometimes they take them and sometimes they don’t.”
Asked what his feeling was on Young’s future in Tennessee, Adams was hopeful, yet realistic about the situation.
“Sunday night was a pretty good start, but I think this whole season is important for him. He just needs to continue to improve and play football,” Adams said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be a Titan beyond this year, but I also know it’s a business, so you never know.”