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Titans get their guy in Hasselbeck

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Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

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By Arthur Arkush

The Titans have agreed to a multi-year contract with QB Matt Hasselbeck, according to multiple media reports.

It is expected that Hasselbeck will be a starter from Day One in Tennessee, following the retirement of Kerry Collins and the impending release of Vince Young. First-round pick Jake Locker will be the backup.

Hasselbeck played the last 10 seasons for the Seahawks, leading them to the playoffs six times, including last year's surprise run to the NFC Divisional round. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, though injuries have been an issue lately, with him playing in all 16 regular-season games just once in the past five seasons.

Locker, the former University of Washington star, has worked out with Hasselbeck previously when both played in Seattle. It is expected the newly-signed quarterback will act as a mentor for the rookie in addition to handling the starting duties.

The PFW spin

The Titans' No. 1 priority this offseason after hiring Mike Munchak to replace longtime head coach Jeff Fisher was closing the book on Young, who, despite a winning record in the Music City, ran out of chances to prove that he could be a leader and team player.

After selecting Locker, who by all accounts is the antithesis of Young, early in Round One, the Titans made no secret about the fact that they intended to find a solid veteran who could start right away and show Locker the ropes. Although Collins fit that description before announcing his retirement earlier this month, we heard all along that the front office had its sights set on Hasselbeck, who has strong ties to Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt and vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster from their time together in Seattle. (Collins was more the fallback option, with Donovan McNabb also a possibility.)

Like Locker — and unlike Young — Hasselbeck is very well respected by his teammates for being a strong personality in the locker room. His inconsistent play and durability issues the past few seasons are cause for concern, but his brilliant performance in the '10 postseason proved he still has some tread on the tires.

Undoubtedly a strong selling point for Hasselbeck in his decision to sign with the Titans is Tennessee's potent rushing attack, which Hasselbeck hadn't had in Seattle since Shaun Alexander's retirement. Make no mistake, the Titans are going to be a running outfit that leans heavily on the electric Chris Johnson, meaning Hasselbeck will mainly be counted on to be a game manager and a temporary placeholder while the promising Locker has ample time to develop. Obviously, the Titans expect Locker to become the starter sooner than later. If he can push Hasselbeck late in his rookie season, that will be considered a bonus. If not, he'll have the benefit of watching a pro's pro from the sideline until he is ready.

When Hasselbeck is asked to air it out, he will have some intriguing weapons at his disposal. WR Kenny Britt, if he can stay out of jail, is the type of wideout who will often make his quarterback look good. Britt has very few limitations on the field, and for a club that has lacked leadership in recent years, the addition of Hasselbeck may assist Britt in getting his life in order and on a path to reach his tremendous potential.

Young TE Jared Cook is another weapon for Hasselbeck who possesses huge upside. His speed and athleticism is similar to Seahawks TE John Carlson, who was a favorite target of Hasselbeck's during the time together in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to Reinfeldt and Webster, it is also worth mentioning that new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer is very familiar with Hasselbeck. Palmer and the veteran QB's relationship dates back to 1986, when the two lived in the same town in Massachusetts. Because of the shortened offseason, not having to spend time building a relationship and trust between a player and coach is huge. (That Hasselbeck and Locker worked together earlier in the offseason is also encouraging.)

In the end, only time will tell if the Titans will catch lightning in a bottle with Hasselbeck as he approaches the twilight of his career. He doesn't have the mobility of Young or Locker, but neither did Collins, who had a solid stint with the club. The bottom line is that the Titans wanted to quickly turn the page and bring some stability after Young divided the locker room and the Titans fan base, and the acquisition of Hasselbeck should accomplish that goal.

 


 

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