By Terry McCormick, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS - The long-anticipated face-to-face meeting here between the Tennessee Titans and Albert Haynesworth's agent Chad Speck took place Saturday evening, with the end result being described as "productive" by a league source.
According to the source, the Titans increased their initial offer to Haynesworth, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent by Friday unless the Titans can sign him to an extension.
Neither Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt nor Speck could be reached for comment.
Haynesworth is believed to be seeking a deal that could make him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, surpassing the $32 million in guarantees that Jared Allen got from the Minnesota Vikings last year, perhaps wanting around $35 million guaranteed.
According to a source, the Titans probably are not willing to meet such a figure.,
According to reports, Tennessee's initial offer was for four years and $36 million with between $20-$25 million of that guaranteed. How much the Titans improved on that offer is not yet known, but if Haynesworth reaches the open market, some team could come close to meeting the figures he is seeking.
Even if Haynesworth reaches free agency, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Friday from the NFL Combine that the Titans would not give up on negotiating with Haynesworth.
The Atlanta Falcons were believed to be one potential destination on Haynesworth's wish list, but Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Friday the Falcons would not be big players in free agency or the Haynesworth derby.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are believed to be one team with potential interest in Haynesworth if he reaches unrestricted free agency.
University of Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers says he is not a one-hit wonder when it comes to his playing career with the Vols.
Ayers, whose stock has been rising on plenty of draft boards after strong Senior Bowl workouts, met with the media here at the combine Sunday and spoke about his situation as a riser in the draft.
"Going into the Senior Bowl, I didn't think I would be this highly ranked," Ayers said. "I had a good senior season, and I wanted to go to the Senior Bowl and capitalize on the opportunity and show people that I could play. I felt I did a pretty good job of doing that, and I've done some good things since I've been here. I feel like it really helped me a lot."
Though he was only a starter his senior season, Ayers points out that he was productive off the bench in UT's defensive line rotation the previous season as a junior in 2007.
"The fact that I only started one year can lead you the wrong way. You look it, and I led the team in tackles for loss and sacks my junior year off the bench," Ayers said. "So my hard work didn't just start my senior year. The fact that I got most improved my junior year and then I got selected as a captain my senior year shows that I've been working hard. So my hard work really did pay off, and I earned the starting job as a senior. But I've been working hard since day one, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
Rather than being a one-year wonder, Ayers likes another cliché much better.
"I guess you could say I'm a late bloomer. I look at myself as a hard worker, and I just stayed patient and kept playing and waiting for the opportunity to come. And when the opportunity came, I just took advantage of it," Ayers said.
Ready to go
Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore had an idea that the 2008 would be his final season with the Commodores.
Moore spent three seasons at Vanderbilt, but now has put himself in position to be a first or second-round draft pick in this April's draft.
"I had a goal when I came out of high school that I wanted to leave after three years," Moore said. "My thing was that if I wasn't good enough in three, I wasn't going to be good enough in four."
Moore said he knew he was ready after playing a key role in Vandy's win over Kentucky that made the Commodores bowl eligible for the first time since 1982. He caught a TD as a receiver in that 31-24 Vandy victory and also picked off two passes.
"Honestly, I felt like last year I played good enough, but for the season I had as for making a decision at a point in the season, it was the Kentucky game where I had a really good game," Moore said.
He also said he accomplished another goal by being an All-America selection.
"And then when they announced that I had made second-team All-American, I wanted to be an All-American, so that was like the last thing I really wanted to accomplish," Moore said.
In his final two years with the Commodores, Moore intercepted 11 passes, despite being only 5-8. He said he knows what teams might thing, but doesn't see his size as a problem.
"I'm 5-8, so everybody was a bigger than me for the most part," Moore said. "But it was the same as anybody. You read your keys and do your job, and the quarterback is going to throw the ball and try to make it a jump ball every play."