<
>

Poor timing by Cortland Finnegan

12/16/2011

Cortland Finnegan had a one-day walkout in the preseason over his contract and dramatically fibbed about why he disappeared before coming to his senses, coming clean and apologizing.

Since then he’s been a model citizen.

He didn’t head into the locker room Thursday planning on saying anything that stirred controversy or became a distraction.

I think he did his best to answer some questions honestly.

But he made a mistake.

It’s unbecoming for a key player on a team still in playoff contention to lament his contract situation, even in what appears to have been a calm, reflective conversation with Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

“It is like you have three weeks left and they say you are going to be fired, and you don’t hear anything leading up to that. You just do the best you can with what you’ve got. But from history, it doesn’t look bright for me here. But I know I can’t control that.”

Reaching unrestricted free agency, where he can hit the jackpot, is hardly akin to being fired.

He should have noted how New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Baltimore running back Ray Rice have handled similar situations, by saying things will take care of themselves and they just need to keep playing well.

The Titans have a slew of guys playing out their contracts, Finnegan being the most important.

But there has been no indication that the team has engaged in contract talks with anyone. And it’s probably the right approach. A new deal for one guy could have changed how he’s playing and tick off other guys wanting the same. That other teams may be doing things differently is of no consequence.

Tennessee could franchise Finnegan, though he said he’d be “upset” if he got the one-year tag for over $10 million in 2012.

With Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty, the Titans have two good young corners. Tommie Campbell is viewed as a high-quality prospect with upside. Tennessee could decide to let Finnegan walk. But he is a versatile player who’s raised his game this season, shifting inside in the nickel package and consistently disrupting receivers and blitzing with effect. That would be tough to replace.

He’ll be an attractive option on the free-agent market if he gets there. Money changed him the first time he got a new contract in 2008. A prospective employer, old or new, has to weigh that into the equation when considering offering him a new contract.

If he winds up on a new team, they’ll be getting a good corner who doesn’t always know how or when to make his points.