Now that owner Bud Adams’ flirtation with Peyton Manning is in the books, what impact did Manning choosing the Broncos have on the Titans’ organization?
For starters, although Adams went against the wishes of the front office, his forthrightness helped matters. QB Matt Hasselbeck appreciated the candor and said there were no hard feelings and we hear GM Ruston Webster and head coach Mike Munchak surely would have had no problems making it work if Manning had chosen Nashville. However, a question certainly worth raising is, will the 89-year-old Adams, who desperately wants his team to contend for a title, be meddlesome again moving forward? Given his track record, it can’t be ruled out.
As far as the perception by some that the acquisition of OG Steve Hutchinson wouldn’t have occurred if the team wasn’t trying to land Manning — as the two are close friends and Hutchinson makes an already-strong pass-protection group even stronger — that is false. Word is Webster and his staff intended all along on pursuing Hutchinson, who is also tight with Hasselbeck from their five years together in Seattle. However, it is not surprising for people to have wondered if the Hutchinson signing was a sign of the Titans straying from their original free-agent plans — Munchak has been sending mixed messages about his offensive line since early last season. After the season wrapped up, he said the focus on bolstering the group would be by bringing in young guys. That obviously changed.
Would Tennessee have pursued Bills OLB Mario Williams if Adams hadn’t mandated a change of course at the 11th hour? We hear Williams was definitely on the Titans’ radar, though most of our sources doubt they would have been willing to shell out the kind of dough he received in Buffalo. That doesn’t mean the Titans didn’t miss out on other players, though. We have it on good authority that, if their hands weren't tied waiting on a decision from Manning, Rams C Scott Wells and Panthers S Haruki Nakamura both would have signed with the club. That means C Eugene Amano might have been the beneficiary of all this; he likely would have been the odd man out if Wells — or Packers C Jeff Saturday — came to Nashville.