Both men are entering the final years of their respective contracts with the Tennessee Titans.
But as training camp opened Friday, football, not finances, was the focus of both Keith Bulluck and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Both are cornerstones of a defense that has anchored the Titans resurgence of the past three seasons. Both are now in their 30s and neither knows whether he will be a Titan beyond 2009.
But Bulluck and Vanden Bosch didn’t want to focus on that as camp opened once again.
“The only time I think about my contract is when I’m asked about it,” Bulluck said. “I have no control over what happens. The only thing I can control is what I do on the football field.
"With what I do on the football field, if the Tennessee Titans are interested in bringing me back next year, that’s great. I’d love to be here. But at the end of the day, if I’m not here, I know somebody is going to want me, just because of my body of work, especially if I make it through the season healthy.”
Bulluck, 32, has started 113 regular season games for the Titans at outside linebacker, and believes he is still a step ahead of any would-be challengers for his job in the future.
“I feel like a lot of these young guys are still trying to keep up with me and get to where I’m at and do the things that I’m able to do,” Bulluck said. “As far as contract, Jeff [Fisher] knows the player I am on and off the field. Mike Reinfeldt is new. Maybe he’s not convinced yet, but it’s whatever. That’s business.”
The franchise tag might be a possibility, but Bulluck said he wants no part of that.
“I definitely don’t want to be franchised. It’s only a one-year deal. It’s like they’re using my services for one year and then I’m right back in the same situation,” he said.
Bulluck said the Titans have not spoken to his agent Gary Wichard about a contract extension this off-season.
“They haven’t spoken to Gary. I can say that for a fact. They don’t seem anxious to speak to Gary, and that doesn’t hurt my feelings nor does it bother me,” Bulluck said.
The Titans have spoken with the agent for Vanden Bosch, as Tony Agnone told The City Paper recently that he had engaged in preliminary talks on an extension.
But the defensive end isn’t worried about that, so much as he is concerned about proving he is the player he was from 2005-07, and not the one plagued by a groin problem last year. That is perhaps part of the reason Vanden Bosch and the Titans don’t appear to be close to a new deal yet.
“I feel like I’ve got something to prove to myself and to my teammates,” Vanden Bosch said. “If we were close before training camp started, it would have been nice, but I think honestly my value is at an all-time low, because people are going to base it on what I did last year. And that wasn’t me.
“At this point, I’m worried about getting myself ready to play against Pittsburgh and getting my team ready to play.”
Both men seem prepared for whatever the outcome might be as it pertains to the business end of the game. Bulluck has seen the likes of Eddie George, Steve McNair, Jevon Kearse, Albert Haynesworth, Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle all leave the Titans over the years. If it is his time, he says he is OK with that.
“I’ve seen everybody leave. I still love the people in Tennessee. It’s no hard feelings toward the organization or anything like that. At that point, it is what it is. I have no control over,” Bulluck said. “The only thing I can control is my actions on the field.”
Said Vanden Bosch, “I don’t really want to think about the contract. I just want to move forward, and I told Tony that. If phone calls are made and conversations are made, I don’t want to hear about it.”