Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner is set to test the open market. He wants a big paycheck after a career-best year in 2013, and while he would like to stay in Tennessee, he doesn't seem open about taking a hometown discount. From The Tennessean:
"I guess you could say it exists, and it doesn't exist. I love being here, I love my teammates and I love Tennessee. When it comes to the money, it is not like I need to be paid super high. But I am not going to be a fool and take anything that is super small. From a business standpoint, you don't know how long you are going to play in this league, so you have to take advantage when you can."
The Titans have until March 11 to exclusively negotiate with Verner, but the two sides never came close to a deal and Tennessee declined to use the franchise tag on him, which would have cost $11.8 million. The Titans have $13 million in cap space and could free up $6 million more by releasing Chris Johnson, but Verner appears to still be out of their price range. Tennessee is already set to pay Jason McCourty $8.3 million in 2014.
The market for cornerbacks this year seems to be set already. The Miami Dolphins locked up Brent Grimes to a four-year deal worth $32 million, taking one of the top cornerbacks off the market early. The key difference between the two players is age -- Grimes is 30, while Verner is still only 25 years old. Players with his talent don't normally hit free agency at that age, meaning that Verner is set to break the bank.
A fourth-round pick out of UCLA in 2010, Verner enjoyed his best success yet in 2013, leading the Titans with five interceptions and grading out as the No. 12 corner on Pro Football Focus. If and when he leaves Tennessee, the team has some in-house options like Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Coty Sensabaugh and Tommie Campbell to replace him, but Verner will no doubt be a big loss to the defense. For his part, Verner is aware of the situation and remains hopeful the two sides can work something out.
"I am open to anything. I am not saying I am fully anticipating going into free agency no matter what Tennessee does. I am not saying I really hope Tennessee comes through," he said. "I am just waiting to see what happens."