Wednesday, April 9, 2014
A look back at Reinfeldt's contract work
By Paul Kuharsky
Mike Reinfeldt was the Tennessee Titans' general manager from 2007 through 2011.
He was promoted after that, but after just one year working as the team’s senior executive vice president/chief operating officer, he was fired over a failure to push aggressively enough in the Peyton Manning free-agent derby.
It was Reinfeldt who struck a deal to end Chris Johnson's contract holdout in 2011, with a six-year deal worth $53.9 million with $13 million guaranteed.
That left me wondering how the biggest signings of Reinfeldt's five-year term as GM has panned out.
That deal was too much for Johnson, though at the time it didn’t look so bad given his production, the brightness of his star and the Titans' need for a dynamic playmaker.
It’s probably unreasonable to think Reinfeldt should have seen or anticipated what would unfold in the following three years in terms of the economics at running back.
How about Reinfeldt’s other primary deals? There weren't too many major ones.
2008: RT David Stewart: A seven-year, $36.8 million deal with $10 million guaranteed.
Current status: Cut to avoid a $6.4 million base salary in his final year.
Overall: They locked up a physical guy who helped anchor the line before he broke down.
2009: WR Nate Washington: A six-year, $26.8 million deal with $9 million guaranteed.
Current status: About to play out the final season of that six-year, free-agent deal, something that’s basically unheard of in today’s NFL.
Overall: Matured in time and has been a steady player.
2010: LB Will Witherspoon: A three-year, $11 million deal with $5 guaranteed.
Current status: With the St. Louis Rams.
Overall: A decent veteran who played OK and didn’t cost a great deal.
2011: QB Matt Hasselbeck: A three-year, $21 million deal and a $6 million signing bonus.
Current status: With the Indianapolis Colts.
Overall: Did a lot for the locker-room tone and played solidly in leading the Titans to a 9-7 record in his first year. Backed up Jake Locker and played some in his second season. Released before his third season.
TE Daniel Graham: A three-year, $8.25 million deal with a $2 million signing bonus.
Current status: Out of the league.
Overall: Caught two balls in 14 games and was cut after one season.
DT Shaun Smith: A three-year, $7.25 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus.
Current status: Out of the league.
Overall: They wanted to get bigger, but he didn’t really fit their scheme and only played with the Titans for one season.
So ... Reinfeldt didn’t have a particularly distinctive record on contracts. His five No. 1 draft picks -- safety Michael Griffin, Johnson, Kenny Britt, Derrick Morgan and Locker -- haven’t formed a core the way they needed to either.
While coaches often get second chances in the NFL, general managers rarely do. Bud Adams surprised Reinfeldt, and a lot of other people, when he fired him right after the 2012 season. It was really over what Adams viewed as Reinfeldt’s insufficient pursuit of Manning.
I think the Titans are better off with Ruston Webster as GM.
But under his leadership, the Titans have crafted some deals that were also questionable. Michael Griffin got $35 million, Kamerion Wimbley got $35 million and Craig Stevens got $14.4 million.
To Webster's credit, as the market has become more clear for some of those guys, he’s been able to reduce their prices. Stevens just got his 2014 base salary cut from $3.4 million to $1.6 million. And Wimbley just trimmed the base salaries in his final three years by $13.05 million.