- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Alterraun Verner made a graceful exit from Tennessee as he signed a four-year, $25.5 million free-agent deal with Tampa Bay.
He appeared on The Midday 180 in Nashville as our guest Friday largely to say thanks to Titans fans.
Verner said he expected some heat for leaving, but that the Titans' fanbase has been largely congratulatory.
He was polite, professional and not angry, but also said the Titans didn’t always make him feel loved and appreciated. In free agency, feeling loved is crucial.
You can hear the interview I’m about to quote from here.
I’m fine with the Titans' ultimate plan to allow Coty Sensabaugh or Blidi Wreh-Wilson to win the open starting spot, just as Verner won it when Cortland Finnegan left. I know Tennessee was the victim of its own accurate pricing -- if the Titans offered a deal at the end of last season averaging $6.5 million a year, Verner’s agent would have scoffed. Yet that’s what he ultimately got from the Buccaneers.
“That’s why I said the money really isn't the issue because in some sense, Tennessee kind of [ultimately] offered something around where I'm at now,” Verner said. “It's not really the money that was the issue. It's kind of rooted a little bit deeper than that. So maybe if they would have did this offer before the season started or maybe during the season, maybe I would have did it, but once the season ended, it was going to take a little bit more -- not necessarily money -- but just different ways of approaching the whole situation, they would have had to do a little different for me to probably come back and consider coming back."
So did the Titans undervalue him in non-financial ways?
"In answering that question, I think it's very tough because there's a lot of changeover, new coaches and everything like that,” he said. “At times, I felt that I could have been undervalued or maybe not appreciated enough. You know, I don't need to get slaps on the back or pampered or anything like that. I've never been that type of person or player to really want that. But at times I felt like I'm being demeaned or being put under when I felt like I'm being a professional, I'm doing everything right.
“I practice, I play every game -- hurt or not hurt -- I don't really complain and I'm a team player. But at certain points I feel like I gained, or should have earned, more respect at certain areas. It would take too long to go real deep into it or anything like that. It's not like I'm saying that the front office or coaches or anybody is bad or treated me mean or anything, there's just certain things that they could have did a little bit different or that they did do that wasn't the most ideal or most respectful way of doing things."
Here’s some leftover ill effects from the poor job Jerry Gray did as the Titans' defensive coordinator for the past three years. In both 2012 and 2013, Gray pushed hard for the bigger, faster Tommie Campbell to win the job opposite Jason McCourty.
Verner consistently outplayed Campbell. Everyone should have to compete for his job, of course. But the way Gray propped up Campbell was a joke, and I imagine Verner resented it to some degree.
Surely that at least played a part of what he’s referring to when he says there were times he felt “demeaned” or “put under.”
He’s landed in a good spot. Like virtually everyone else who follows the team, I wish him well and expect big things.