INDIANAPOLIS — In a roundabout way, Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated here Friday at the NFL Combine that the club will pay Vince Young the $4.25 million roster bonus owed him when it comes due on March 10.
“I’m not going to get into details of the contract aspects, but Vince is going to return as our starter. There’s no need to get into discussions,” Fisher said. “We have a deal with Vince and I’m looking forward to him getting into the off-season programs and getting going.”
Young regained his starting job after the Titans 0-6 start and helped Tennessee to eight wins in its final 10 games, completing 152 of 259 passes with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The quarterback’s contract still has two years to run and with a $7 million base salary for the coming year, Young would count $14.2 million against Tennessee’s salary cap for 2010. However, that becomes less of a concern in one aspect because of the uncapped season.
Fisher also said he expects veteran Kerry Collins to return as the Titans backup. Collins signed a two-year, $15 million deal before the 2009 season when he was still the starting quarterback. Collins said toward the end of last season that he did not expect the Titans to pay him $6 million to be a backup.
“We expect Kerry to come back as our backup. I don’t see much change there at that position. We’re fortunate that we’ve got basically two starting quarterbacks on our roster,” said Fisher, who also noted that Collins was the victim of plenty of dropped passes in the team’s 0-6 start.
Bulluck, Vanden Bosch futures?
Fisher touched on a number of other topics regarding free agency on Friday, saying the Titans would like to have both Keith Bulluck and Kyle Vanden Bosch back on the team this year, even though serious talks with either player have yet to materialize this offseason.
“I’ve said really since the end of the season and since his injury that we really need to find some way to keep Keith a Titan and for him to finish as a Titan,” Fisher said of Bulluck, who is currently rehabbing an ACL injury in his left knee that occurred in December. “I’m confident that Keith will get back on the field. Keith, over the years, has been a very quick healer and he’s working hard. He’s probably in the most grueling phase of his rehab right now and he’s pushing through it.”
As for Vanden Bosch, Fisher admitted the defensive end could escape to the open market as time is running out on the Titans’ exclusive negotiating window. Indications from Vanden Bosch’s agent are that no new talks have taken place since the Titans called last week to say they still had interest.
“We’ve expressed all along that we have an interest in Kyle coming back as a starter and that has not changed,” Fisher said. “We’re running out of time, however, and there’s a chance that he may get out there. We’ll just see what happens. But we have a definite interest in having him back, as well as a number of players who are unrestricted.”
Mawae loses out to youth
One player who will escape to the open market is 39-year-old center Kevin Mawae, who was going to lose his starting position to Leroy Harris anyway, given the Titans’ decision to re-sign Eugene Amano last week.
“It was a difficult decision for us, because we decided to go in the direction to a youth movement, instead of trying to agree to terms with Kevin as a starter,” Fisher said. “I had a very good conversation with Kevin a week or so ago, and the organization would very much like to have him back in some sort of backup capacity.
“He’s a tremendous leader and provides a great deal of stability for us offensively. I know Kevin very well. I know Kevin still thinks he can play and he can play. He can start. Kevin’s probably going to go out and look and see what kind of opportunities there are and make a career decision as to whether to start or come back here as a backup.”
As for priorities in the draft and free agency, Fisher listed the defense — and especially the defensive line — as an area targeted for an upgrade.
He also indicated that the Titans must solidify the punt and kickoff return position, which was a struggle last season with no one settling into the role and maintaining it.
“It’s a priority. That’s something we have to address. We can do it either way [in the draft or free agency],” Fisher said. “We may do it both. Who knows? We owe it to ourselves to have somebody back there who has skills and the ability to make big plays for us and minimize mistakes.”
Restricted free agents to be tendered
Fisher said that the Titans would tender all six of their restricted free agents, including tight end Bo Scaife, who is due $4.9 million, unless Tennessee decides to tender him at the lowest level and receive no compensation with only a right of first refusal. That amount is $1.226 million, which would amount to a more than $3 million pay cut from the franchise number of $4.46 million a year ago.
“We want Bo back. That’s all I can say about that, and we’ll have Bo playing for us again this year,” Fisher said.
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