Three years ago, the Titans used the eighth overall pick in the draft on quarterback Jake Locker. Roughly three months later, then-Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt sent a second-round selection to the Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Neither worked out very well.
Locker remains in Tennessee, entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract at a time when the Titans have to decide (by May 3) whether to pick up a fifth-year option at roughly $13 million. With Whisenhunt arriving, it’s unknown whether the new coach will want to keep him around.
Locker remains positive, for now.
“[I’m] excited about the hire and looking forward to working with Coach Whisenhunt. He has always had very successful offenses and I look forward to learning from him,” Locker told Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com.
Whisenhunt was a bit more measured in his assessment of Locker.
“I just got finished with our [Chargers] season two days ago,” Whisenhunt said during his introductory press conference. “It has been kind of a whirlwind. You know there is a lot of time that goes into that, especially when you get into the playoffs. I really haven’t had a chance to study that. That is going to be a big thing over the next weeks and months, as far as evaluating our players and how they fit in. The one thing I will say is that I liked Jake coming out.”
Whisenhunt may have liked Locker, but not enough to use the fifth overall pick in the draft on him. (The Cardinals took cornerback Patrick Peterson instead, which has worked out fairly well for Arizona.)
What matters moving forward is whether Whisenhunt likes Locker enough to make him the starter in 2014 — and whether the Titans will exercise the fifth-year option. Some have reported/speculated/guessed educatedly that the Titans won’t; one league insider has wagered with me a bottle (or maybe bag) of wine that the Titans and every other team will pick up the fifth-year option on their 2011 first-round picks.
If the Titans pull the trigger on the option by May 3, it likely means Locker will have a very good chance to be the Week One starter. If they don’t, that could mean they’ll be relying on someone else — perhaps someone they draft five days later.