As announced on Twitter by the man himself and subsequently confirmed by the team, the Tennessee Titans today signed safety Bernard Pollard to a multi-year contract extension. Jim Wyatt indicates it is for two years, so through 2015. Financial terms have not yet been disclosed. Pollard was set to be a free agent when the new league year opened March 11.
I just discussed Pollard's 2013 performance and what I thought of him going forward when I did the safety offseason positional analysis last week. In that post, I noted that while I felt like Pollard and Gregg Williams were a very natural and mutually reinforcing pairing, I was much less comfortable with the fit between Pollard and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. That was true in terms of on-the-field responsibilities, namely pass coverage. There, I think Pollard's aggressiveness too often gets the best of him and I'm not sure he displays the sort of route and pattern recognition you want to see from a veteran safety. It was also true off the field, though that was based on a more amorphous feeling I got from listening to them talk.
Horton has only once really spoken on Pollard. In one of his radio interviews, he noted that they had met and had a good honest talk. Like Horton did as a player, Pollard earned a Super Bowl ring. Horton noted Pollard had shown he was smart, tough, and could play football, but could he lead a group of men? Maybe he filled that role in the locker room, maybe not; Horton did not specifically discuss that in the interview, but there is enough carryover on the staff that the Titans, including GM Ruston Webster, could have made that determination. That is one of the big questions about Pollard. He has been a fiery, vocal guy everywhere he's been, but he seems to always be on. That can be a very effective approach much of the time, but it's not all the time or for every player. That could work in a Ravens locker room that also had veterans like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but it's a different question on a team that was as lacking in existing leadership as the defensive locker room Pollard joined in Nashville. 2013's results were okay to good, at least from the outside, and it will be up to Horton and Pollard to make things work well in 2014 and 2015 both on and off the field.
Looking at the broader team impact of the signing, the Titans are set at safety with Pollard and Michael Griffin as their starters. Retaining Pollard could leave George Wilson vulnerable, as a backup making a non-cheap salary. Given his value, presence, and versatility, though, plus an unadjusted cap at $133 million instead of $126.3, keeping him around is a slight but very affordable luxury in my book. Pollard's signing does not affect in any way my belief that the Titans could use a better pure FS-type backup for Griffin, but I still do not expect the team to make any major or even necessarily minor moves in that area.