Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe could be going from Week One starter in 2016 to off the roster in 2017.
As explained by Jason Wolf of the Tennessean, the guy who contributed as a fifth-round rookie a year ago may be in danger of missing the final cut in September. The problem arises from the players the Titans have added at the position, including rookie first-rounder Corey Davis and, more recently, veteran Eric Decker, whose contract has a structure that essentially guarantees him a roster spot.
Complicating matters for Sharpe are a civil lawsuit and companion criminal investigation into an off-field issue and a stress fracture in his foot that, following surgery, caused Sharpe to miss a chunk of the offseason program, and that will make it harder on him when training camp opens.
“Some of them like Tajae [are] going to have a hard time,” coach Mike Mularkey said last week regarding players who will be unable to exercise as usual. “Obviously he’s not going to run right now, but he’s got to do something to stay in shape. You can’t come back and expect to get in shape in training camp. It’s not like the old days. Training camp is short. You used to be able to build into it in the training camps. You can’t do that anymore. You’ve got to be ready to go. No matter what your injury is, there’s something you can do, cardio-wise, to train.”
Ultimately, Sharpe will need to perform, during practice and preseason games. Last year, he caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games, with 10 starts. This year, the Titans surely want more from a spot that high on the depth chart, which means Sharpe could end up lower in the pecking order. Which could ultimately hinge his employment on the extent to which he’s expected to contribute to special teams.