The question about whether or not Jurrell Casey could play defensive end in a three-man front after three productive years as a defensive tackle in a four-man front was answered Wednesday afternoon.
That’s when the Tennessee Titans made Casey one of the league’s highest-paid 3-4 defensive ends. Or at least they made sure that he would be when they signed him to a reported four-year, $36 million contract extension ($20.5 million guaranteed) that takes effect with the start of the 2015 season.
The average salary of $9 million per season is higher than those of all but two 3-4 defensive ends this season. Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata’s contract pays him an average of $12.131 million per season and Arizona’s Calais Campbell makes an average of $11 million per season, according to OverTheCap.com.
This season, Casey will be a bargain at $1.431 million.
“We are excited to come to an agreement on an extension with Jurrell,” general manager Ruston Webster said in a release from the team. “This is something Jurrell has earned not only with his play on the field but his work ethic as well. We appreciate Jurrell’s professionalism through this process and look forward to many good years to come.”
Casey’s willingness to sign during a time of transition is an important vote of confidence for defensive coordinator Ray Horton and his 3-4 based scheme, particularly since the defense has struggled early in the first three preseason games.
His value to the Titans goes beyond his career numbers (averages of 81 tackles and 5.3 sacks per season) or the fact that he had a team-high 10.5 sacks last season. He provides a potential Pro Bowl presence and a foundation piece that will allow the defense to evolve consistently under Horton rather than reshape itself in fits and starts.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS