As Chris Mortensen of ESPN suggested earlier today (and as PFT has confirmed), the Titans currently are leaning toward making Mike Mularkey the permanent head coach.
The team’s position is confounding to many within the league. As one source put it, the message it sends to the NFL at large is, “We’re for sale, or we don’t care.”
The Titans have a chance to make a big splash, given that they have a young franchise quarterback, the first overall pick in the draft (if they lose today), low expectations, a bad division, no state income tax to assist with the pursuit of free agents, and a city regarded as a desirable place to live.
While the Titans privately and public insist that the team isn’t for sale, they could be choosing to retain maximum flexibility in the event they ultimately are forced to sell. As one source explained it, team president Steve Underwood spends much of his time trying to persuade the league office that the current ownership structure complies with all applicable rules and provisions. At some point, the league could win that argument — compelling a sale that would be easier to finalize if the new owner isn’t being hamstrung by a market-value contract for a head coach.
The willingness to keep Mularkey may or may not apply to G.M. Ruston Webster, who is in the final year of his deal. A short-term Band-Aid for Webster wouldn’t be a surprise, if the goal is indeed to make it easier for a new owner to clear the decks.