Andy Reid solidified Titans' decision to keep Mariota

A franchise quarterback is so uniquely valuable in the NFL, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff once explained, that "the search for him consumes you."

It's that mindset -- and a convincing anecdote from Andy Reid -- that helped sway the Titans into turning down all trade offers to pull the trigger on Oregon's Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

When ex-Saints coach Mike Ditka was offering his entire draft to move into the top five for Ricky Williams in 1999, Reid opted to stay put and draft Donovan McNabb at No. 2 overall.

Reid was confident that McNabb would be a star. Just as important, he understood there was no guarantee the Eagles would be picking high enough in the next draft to land a quarterback capable of turning his franchise around.

"I was talking to Andy today," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt told Peter King of The MMQB on Thursday night. "He told me the story about Ditka offering a whole draft for (Reid's) pick. I understood what Andy was saying. It certainly helped solidify what I was thinking -- that's for sure."

This isn't a case of Reid turning the screw on Philadelphia fans, ruining Chip Kelly's chance to land Mariota. After spending time with Mariota at Oregon's pro day, Whisenhunt realized the perceptions of Mariota as a runner or "system quarterback" simply weren't true.

Once Whisenhunt's opinion solidified, NFL Media's Albert Breer reported, the Titans communicated to the Eagles and other teams that the price for the No. 2 pick would exceed the Rams' treasure chest for Robert Griffin III in 2012.

If Mariota meets Whisenhunt's lofty expectations, the Titans will never look back.

On the other hand, there's a horror story to match Reid's acumen in holding the line on McNabb.

In that same draft, Bengals owner Mike Brownrejected Ditka's offer of all six 1999 draft picks plustwo more first-round picks and a second-rounder because he couldn't pass up the opportunity to draft Akili Smith at No. 3 overall.

Where did Smith post record-setting numbers in college? Oregon.

Whereas Smith bottomed out as one of the most notable draft busts in NFL history, he believes the latest Ducks star is an "absolutely flawless" prospect.

Judging by the Titans' exorbitant price tag for Mariota, Whisenhunt agrees with that assessment.

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