The Tennessee Titans made another move on offense on Thursday, signing quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to a two-year deal. Jim Wyatt indicates the base value of the deal is $4 million, though incentives could push it to $8 million.
Whitehurst spent 2013 with the San Diego Chargers, the team with which he has spent most of his career since he was drafted in the third round out of Clemson in 2006. If you recall, he actually made his NFL debut against the Titans back in 2006, though he did not attempt a pass in that game. Or the rest of the regular season. Or in 2007. Or in 2008. Or in 2009. Intrigued by the potential that showed, the Seahawks acquired him in a trade and let him attempt 99 passes in 2010. He posted a DVOA of -33.2%. They let him attempt 56 passes in 2011. His DVOA went down to -49.2%. The Chargers reacquired him in 2012 and let him go back to not actually attempting any passes. For his career, he is 84-155 (53%) for 805 yards (5.2 ypa) and 3 touchdowns against 4 interceptions.
Whitehurst has good size at 6’5, 228 pounds (listed) and is likely familiar with Ken Whisenhunt’s offense, at least to the extent Whisenhunt will be running the same thing he did in San Diego last year. I would give you a listing of further strengths, but aside from his familiar with Whisenhunt’s offense the first thing Titans general manager Ruston Webster praised was that “he has been around some outstanding NFL quarterbacks,” by which he apparently means Philip Rivers and maybe Matt Hasselbeck unless he is much higher on Billy Volek and Tarvaris Jackson than sanity suggests he should be.
Whitehurst’s arrival almost certainly means the imminent departure of incumbent backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, whom I believe has a roster bonus due within the next couple days. As I noted in the quarterbacks positional analysis, Fitzpatrick played acceptably well for a backup in 2013 once the Titans adapted the offense to fit his strengths and limit the impact of his distinct weaknesses. Apparently, those weaknesses proved too much for Whisenhunt to keep him around. Given Whisenhunt’s past liking for downfield routes and Fitzpatrick’s inability to throw downfield with success, I am not too surprised they jettisoned him. It’s just the “bringing in Whitehurst” part that surprises me. He was a little cheaper, but not incredibly cheap (Kellen Clemens replaced him in San Diego for 25% less), and is no younger (32 in August, or 3.5 months older than Fitzpatrick). Plus, Fitzpatrick’s strengths mean he can be heavily managed and manipulated into a quarterback who can win if you’re playing well enough around him; I’ve never seen that from Whitehurst. I sure hope the Titans know what they’re doing with this move, because unless that’s “trying to lose games if/when Jake Locker goes down,” I don’t know what that is.