NASHVILLE — NFL players rarely finish their careers with the franchise that drafted them.
Jurrell Casey’s tenure as a Tennessee Titan came to a similar end.
The team traded him to the Denver Broncos this offseason for a seventh-round pick after nine years, five Pro Bowls and a recent AFC Championship run. Casey has not said much in the wake of the trade until his appearance Sunday on the Double Coverage Podcast with former Tennessee teammate Jason McCourtey and brother Devin. No words were minced from the admittedly emotional Casey.
In My Feelings Football.
“The part that is so crazy is that you give so much to them. Especially when you come up on free agency and have opportunities to go somewhere else. Especially the way it was going when we were there, 2-14, 3-13,” Casey said to Jason McCourty. “Those were some rough times. When you’re a loyal guy and you feel like things are going in the right direction and you’re that centerpiece, you got no choice but to fight it through. My mindset was to stick it out and things would get better.
“For us to get to that point to get better and to be a main focus of that and then you just throw me away to the trash like I wasn’t a main block of that … Coming off an injury the year before and playing the whole season for ya’ll. No complaints, I did everything you wanted me to do and you throw me like a piece of trash. At the end of the day, none of these businesses are loyal.”
Cutting bait with players after you have gotten the most value out of them is good business in the NFL.
The Titans, under general manager Jon Robinson, have rewarded loyalty to the team. The lone exception is running back Derrick Henry whose efforts have yet to bring forth a long-term extension. The team has until July 15th to work one out. Contracts to Casey, left tackle Taylor Lewan, safety Kevin Byard and quarterback Ryan Tannehill have all been doled out and justifiably so. Star players are valued and, during his time in Nashville, the defensive lineman was one.
But, for how much longer?
Casey, 30, turned in a 2019 regular season that was inconsistent by his standards. He still managed to lead Tennessee in quarterback pressures (30) and tied for second on the team in sacks (5). After almost a decade in the league, Casey notched his first career postseason sack in the AFC’s Divisional victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
Titans fans will remember him fondly for all that he was on the field and for all that he did off of it.
Those same Two-Tone Die Hards will never grow to resent Casey’s contract as the veteran heads into a full decade of professional football. Trading Casey for spare parts sent a ripple effect through the entire offseason but remains the correct move. The veteran sported a $13.4M cap hit in 2020, $13.9 in 2021 and $13.9 in 2022, per spotrac.com and declining production can only be justified by loyalty for so long.
Contract extensions for younger players are upcoming and COVID-19’s effects on next year’s salary cap justify more financial wiggle room.
When Casey mentions loyalty, he forgets one very important element. Robinson’s allegiances are just as transparent now as they were on Day 1.
The general manager’s loyalties lie with team.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.