While addressing the contract franchised safety Michael Griffin and signing first-round wide receiver Kendall Wright are likely the bigger priorities for the Tennessee Titans' front office, the team has begun negotiations on a contract extension for cornerback Jason McCourty, reports Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Wyatt adds that no deal is imminent, but McCourty has emerged as a leader in the secondary, and the team would like to keep him off the free-agent market in 2013.
A sixth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2009, the 6-foot, 193-pound McCourty started nine of 27 games over his first two seasons in the league, registering 76 tackles and two interceptions. Last season, his third, McCourty started all 15 games he was active, establishing career-highs with 103 tackles, picked up his first NFL sack and had a pair of interceptions. McCourty is scheduled to earn $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary in 2012, which is the final year of his rookie contract.
An extension this offseason would make sense for both sides, but it may be easier said than done. McCourty only has one season as a starter under his belt, but so did Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, a 2009 draft pick who was signed to a six-year, $50 million contract as a restricted free agent in April. If McCourty is seeking starting cornerback money ($7 million per year and up), and there's no reason to think that he's not, the Titans may want to see another season of production from him before taking another stab at an extension or using the franchise tag (estimated value of $10.3 million if salary cap remains flat) in 2013.