Why a contract for Casey could be complex

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
6:57
PM ET
Louis Riddick played in the NFL and has worked as an agent and an NFL scout and director of pro personnel.

[+] EnlargeJurrell Casey
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsTitans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is a disruptive force on the defensive line.
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.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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