Saturday, March 1, 2003

Titans interested in free-agent corner


Bengals reportedly among many suitors

By JIM WYATT
The Tennessean

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Cornerback Denard Walker hasn't been on the free agency market very long. But already at least 10 teams have called about him, including the Tennessee Titans.

Walker, released by the Denver Broncos this week, played for the Titans from 1997-2000.

"The Titans have something that no one else has, which is a history - a good history, where he would really want to come back," Walker's agent, John Hamilton, said Friday. "They are interested, so we'll have to see what happens."

The Titans don't, however, have something a lot of other teams do - money.

While other interested teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals are well under the NFL's salary cap, the Titans are roughly only $200,000 under. So it's unlikely they'll be able to get into any bidding wars.

Hamilton, however, said there are ways to be creative. It just depends on how interested the Titans are. Walker is considered one of the top cornerbacks available.

"Denard certainly has to take into consideration what the market is saying, you can't ignore that. But more than anything Denard is a guy that just wants to be happy," Hamilton said. "I wouldn't want (Tennessee) to get out of the mix simply for fear that they can't compete with some of these other clubs from a monetary standpoint."

Walker is scheduled to begin taking visits this week, though he doesn't have one set up with the Titans. Hamilton said he probably wouldn't have to because he's already familiar with the surroundings.

He thinks Walker would probably need to talk with Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, however, just to find out how the team would use him. When Buffalo Bills Coach Gregg Williams was the Titans defensive coordinator, Walker played on the left side and Samari Rolle handled the right side. Hamilton suspects the team would slide him into the same position if they signed him, which is what Walker would prefer.

The Titans don't hide the fact they think Walker can still play at a high level.

"We certainly like him," Titans General Manager Floyd Reese said. "Maybe he'll just say, 'Give me something that is fair and let me come back,' although that is probably a little bit of a pipe dream, too. I think Denard can come in here and help us, there is little doubt about that."

Hamilton hopes they make a push sooner rather than later.

"Floyd likes the (free agency) game and I am one of these guys that can deal with the game, but I like the conclusion," Hamilton said. "Knowing him like I do, I would guess he is sitting back. He knows that we know they are interested, and he is betting that Denard wants to come back there. At this point, he probably wants Denard to go out there and visit with some people and see what he thinks and if he still wants to come back. ... But if you allow this to get too far along, you stand the risk of not even having a chance."




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