Casey posted 10.5 sacks as a 4-3 defensive tackle a year ago. He was constantly disruptive and emerged as the team’s best defensive player.
The Titans are shifting to a 3-4 this year, but have repeatedly emphasized they won't be changing what Casey does. Defensive line coach Giff Smith told me last week that Casey should face more one-on-ones in the new system.
"He's a heck of a player," Smith said. "I told Case when we got here, he'll actually get more one-on-one situations out of our spacing than he would out of a 4-3 spacing. ...Our deal is to get him in as many as we can. I think he puts stress on offensive linemen, he's a difficult guy to block. ...
"It's more of a loaded box where you have to man up. It looks like single coverage on the outside whereas when you're in 4-3 spacing, sometimes your backers cheat back to 5, 5 1/2 yards and they're on the second level and you've only got four guys up front. They can bump, they can chip, they can double (to slow you down). Where in a 3-4 with what Ray is doing and walking guys up, they have to man and they don't have the time to be able to chip and climb."
That the sides are talking hardly guarantees a deal gets done.
It’s a good sign the Titans don't feel like they need to see how Casey plays in this system before holding such talks. It's a good sign Casey isn't saying he wants to see how it goes before these discussions.
The Titans would like to lock up a key cog long term, and Casey's price now will be at least a little lower than it will be in January if he has another big season.
Casey can get long-term security and not have to worry about suffering an injury before signing and costing himself big dollars.
What is he worth?
According to Over the Cap, the top three total contract values for defensive tackles are Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh ($12.9 average per year with $23.3 million guaranteed), Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy ($11 million average per year with $20.8 guaranteed) and Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins ($10.6 million and $20.8 million guaranteed).
I could see Casey coming in below those three, but ahead of guys such as Cleveland’s Ahtyba Rubin ($8.8 million average per year with $18 million guaranteed) and Buffalo’s Kyle Williams ($7.3 million and $8.75 million guaranteed).
I’d guess the right number is an average around $9-10 million with a guarantee in the high teens.