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Why a contract for Casey could be complex

Louis Riddick played in the NFL and has worked as an agent and an NFL scout and director of pro personnel.

Now an ESPN NFL analyst, he looked at three big negotiations ahead in the NFL in this Insider piece: Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In Tennessee, the clear guy at the head of the line for a new deal is interior defensive lineman Jurrell Casey.

A third-round pick out of USC in 2011, he’s heading into the final year of his rookie deal. In total it’s been worth $3.493 million, including a $1.431 million base salary this season.

Casey was the team’s best defensive player last season and I think he’s a guy they have to make a strong effort to keep.

But it could be difficult to get a long-term deal done before the 2014 season for several reasons.

While he could be giant in 2014 and up his price, it’s possible 2013 was a peak and his value will come down. He had 90 tackles, 10.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss. Do the Titans bet on him getting better and try to pay him before the season or will they want to wait? Does Casey want to get a payday before he puts himself at risk of injury in a contract year or feel he can boost his value?

The team is confident he will be good in any system. Still, the Titans are shifting from a 4-3 front to a front that will feature a lot of 3-4. No matter how he projects into the new scheme, won’t they want to see him do good work in it before they put a big contract in front of him? Won’t he want to see what kind if fit it is?

Is he going to want to stay? I expect defensive coordinator Ray Horton will smartly find the best ways to maximize Casey’s opportunities to excel. It’s possible Casey could wind up feeling he’s more suited for the 4-3 he was in for the first three years of his pro career and want to seek an opportunity in that scheme.

He’s been a good player for the Titans who was healthy up to the end of 2013 and played very well. It’s a bit simple, however, to just declare the Titans should pay him ASAP.

I suspect it’s a story we’ll be following into the 2014 season.