Michael Griffin’s willingness to sign a waiver had a lot to do with the fact that he will not wave goodbye to the Tennessee Titans anytime soon.
Rather than rail against the realities of the franchise tag, as many players throughout the league do, the veteran safety went about the offseason as if it was business as usual.
Tuesday, he completed a significant piece of business when he signed a five-year contract extension that likely will keep him with the organization for the remainder of his career.
“I handled it my way,” he said. “I told my agent as soon as the offseason program was about to start that I wanted to be here. … That was all that was important to me — just being here, working out with the team. … I can’t wait for training camp just to be back around this group of guys.
“This is my job, but this is like my family and I enjoy being around them.”
The franchise tag, which the Titans put on Griffin in March, typically presents a dilemma for the player. It puts them in line to earn a sizable one-season salary but provides nothing in the way of long-term commitment or stability. Plus, there is no signing bonus, so a player does not get anything until the start of the season.
Many in that situation stay away from all offseason activities — and even training camp — for fear of catastrophic injury, which would cause them to miss the entire season and directly affect their ability to get a long-term deal at some point.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees famously has done exactly that this summer. Griffin, on the other hand, elected to sign a waiver, which protected him financially for this season in the event he was injured during football-related activities.
“It played a big role in it, and that’s not to minimize him as a player,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “He’s a talented player who can make a lot of things happen on the football field. But definitely, how he handled the situation — a tough situation, it’s not real easy, you get a lot of pressure from different areas to be a certain way and do certain things — in my mind, he handled it like a true pro.”
The Titans’ first-round draft pick in 2007, Giffin has not missed a game in his five NFL seasons. He has started 73 of the 80 contests he has played and has earned two Pro Bowl invitations (2008 and 2010).
His 17 career interceptions are fourth among all NFL safeties over the past five years and the most among any safety drafted in 2001. He had just two picks in 2011, though, after having averaged nearly four through his first four seasons. Also, his 96 tackles last year were his fewest since 2008.
“Right now, there’s no football games supposed to be played until September,” he said. “Sitting out during voluntary workouts or what-not, I don’t think, is helping the team whatsoever. At the same time, last year with the lockout I wasn’t able to learn the new defense.
“This year, just being able to come out and learn the ins and outs of the defense, being with my teammates — that was what was more important to me than sitting at home working out by myself.”
The Titans have two days of minicamp workouts remaining in their offseason program. After that, players will be on their own until the start of training camp.
In the business sense, however, Griffin is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“My job is to play football,” he said. “To be out here [Wednesday] with no pressure at all, continue to play football. … I think both sides — the organization and myself — handled it great.”