- Jan 22, 2006
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http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060404/SPORTS01/604040349/1027Titans shut the door on McNair
Contract talks keep QB out of complex
By JIM WYATT
Published: Tuesday, 04/04/06
As he's done so many times in his NFL career, Steve McNair showed up for work yesterday at Baptist Sports Park.
Only this time, McNair was told he wasn't welcome.
The 11-year relationship between the Titans and their quarterback took an unexpected turn yesterday when the team informed McNair it didn't want him working out at Baptist Sports Park.
McNair's agent, Bus Cook, said it's a clear sign the veteran's days with the team are numbered.
"A month ago they say he needs to be there to get familiar with the young guys, and now they tell him to get out? I have never seen anything like that in my life," Cook said last night.
"They can sugarcoat it any way they want to, but when you throw your starting quarterback off the property, an MVP, Pro Bowl guy who led them to the Super Bowl and one of the greatest players in the history of the team …
"To just throw him out? After this, I don't think Steve would want to go back any more.''
McNair has one year remaining on his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $9 million in base salary for 2006. He will count $23.46 million against the salary cap, however, and the Titans want to lower that figure by restructuring the contract, but there has been no progress in talks with Cook.
The Titans have the option of releasing McNair if a solution can't be reached.
Titans General Manager Floyd Reese, who remained in Los Angeles to visit with former USC quarterback Matt Leinart, did not return several messages left by The Tennessean.
An associate of McNair said the quarterback was disappointed and declined to discuss the matter last night.
Titans Coach Jeff Fisher, also in Los Angeles, referred to the "complicated" contract situation.
"The organization has a great deal of respect for Steve McNair, what he has meant to this franchise and what he has done to this point," Fisher said. "However, it is difficult for me to comment on the issue of him working out at the facility when I was not involved in these discussions. When we get back in town tomorrow I am sure we'll be able to get things sorted out.
"His contract situation is complicated. I am hopeful that Floyd and Bus will be able to get something resolved very soon.''
As for yesterday's action, the Titans are most likely concerned McNair will get injured before the contract situation is settled. In that case, the team would be liable for the $9 million.
Cook said he received a call from Titans General Counsel Steve Underwood yesterday informing him that McNair would be told to leave the facility when he showed up for the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program. When McNair arrived yesterday, trainer Brad Brown gave him the news.
"But I am sure it came from higher-up,'' Cook said in reference to Titans owner Bud Adams, who is believed to have been involved in the decision. "They told him they apparently they didn't want him to get hurt. They told me they didn't want him working out until he got his contract sorted out, but he's got a contract.
"I am shocked really. I thought it was an April Fools joke. There's no way you can mend that bridge, in my opinion. How do you throw your guy out? Why don't you go to him and say, 'Steve, economically we can't keep you. We are going to go ahead and release you and let you go.' Now we have no desire to go out and help them with the contract. He has a contract, so live up to it if you want him.''
Cook said McNair will probably work out on his own elsewhere, but may be open to taking part in organized workouts at Baptist Sports Park if asked to do so.
Last week McNair told The Tennessean he hopes to retire a Titan, but wasn't sure how things were going to work out.
"This is a business and I've always said I'll never take it personal," he said, and anything that happens with the contract they can talk to Bus and not me. I don't want to get involved in that,'' McNair said.
"I don't know what is going to happen with the numbers. If they don't fit, they don't fit. If they can do the cap number and sign me back and sign an extension that would be great — I would love to end my career with the Titans. But I will play next year regardless.''
In 14 games last season, McNair completed 292 of 476 passes for 3,161 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He missed two games with injuries.