Titans trade QB McNair to Baltimore

Updated: June 7, 2006, 6:15 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Steve McNair finally split with Tennessee Titans and is heading for Baltimore.

McNair, who led the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl, was finally dealt Wednesday to a team that has been seeking a prime quarterback throughout its 10-year existence. He still had to pass a physical in Baltimore to finalize the deal, but the Ravens planned to introduce the man who shared the NFL's MVP award in 2003 as their new quarterback at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The Titans swapped the face of their franchise and a fan favorite for what is believed to be a fourth-round pick in next spring's draft. They had been trying to renegotiate McNair's salary from his scheduled $9 million to reduce a $23.46 million salary cap hit.

"Obviously, the best situation would've been somehow to have been able to pay him what his market value was and keep him," said Bus Cook, McNair's agent. "Without that, it's best for everybody that Steve moves on."

McNair, who turned 33 in February, was the winningest quarterback in franchise history. In 11 seasons, he went 81-59 and shared the MVP award with Peyton Manning three years ago.

The quarterback won a grievance last week that allowed him to return to the team's headquarters and work out after being told he couldn't on April 3.

But the Titans had given McNair's agent permission to talk with Baltimore on April 30 about a contract, and Cook worked out a five-year deal with an $11 million signing bonus and $1 million salary for 2006.

That was much more than McNair could get from the Titans, who had drafted quarterback Vince Young of Texas with the third overall pick in April. The Titans declined to comment after issuing a brief statement announcing the trade.

"Upon passing a physical, final trade terms will be agreed upon," the statement said.

McNair is expected to be the starting quarterback for the team that ended the Titans' bid for a second straight Super Bowl appearance in 2001. That loss is merely one piece of the former AFC Central rivalry featuring physical games and trash-talking between the coaches.

Kyle Boller, the Ravens' incumbent QB, conceded on Tuesday that McNair would likely be the starter.

"If Steve gets here, or when he gets here, we'll handle it then. But as far as now, I'm just out here competing and trying to get this offense where it needs to be," Boller said. "I'm going about my business right now like I'm the starter. That's the only way I can think of it."

Ravens coach Brian Billick said Wednesday players know change can happen at any position. He also wasn't worried about McNair's physical, even though the Titans had asked for a new physical, saying McNair failed his exit physical after missing the regular season finale with a strained pectoral muscle.

"As I understand it, he was cleared to play in the Pro Bowl. That one I'll leave it to a higher pay grade than me to figure out how someone can fail an exit physical but be cleared to play in the Pro Bowl. I'm a little confused about that myself," Billick said.

The trade gives the Ravens the first star quarterback they have ever had.

"You can tell that from his mannerisms on the field and how he portrays and handles himself. He definitely brings some stability to the quarterback position," said tight end Todd Heap, who played with McNair in the Pro Bowl.

The trade also will reunite McNair with his favorite receiver. Derrick Mason signed with Baltimore last year after being among several starters released in a salary cap purge. He watched McNair a couple times last season and said the quarterback did a great job.

"I figure he's still got two, three four years left in him if he doesn't take the shots that he did in previous years," Mason said.

McNair is one of only four players in NFL history with 150 touchdowns passing and 35 rushing, trailing only Steve Young, Randall Cunningham and Steve Grogan. He is one of five with 25,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing, a group that includes John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Young and Randall Cunningham.

During his MVP season, McNair had a 100.4 passer rating and led the Titans to a wild-card playoff victory over the Ravens in Baltimore and came up short on a late drive in a divisional loss at New England.

McNair played in 14 games in 2005 and threw for 3,161 yards and 16 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He missed the regular season finale because of a strained pectoral muscle, but recovered to play in the Pro Bowl in February.

"The bottom line is it's in everybody's best interest to look to the future and not to the past," Cook said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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