Titans: Familiarity with offense main factor in Brandon Weeden deal

ByCameron Wolfe ESPN logo
Thursday, October 5, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans were in the market for a backup quarterback due to starterMarcus Mariota's hamstring injury, but they weren't interested in signing free agent Colin Kaepernick. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said familiarity was the biggest factor in the team's decision to sign Brandon Weeden.

"I'm not aware if there was," Mularkey said of interest in Kaepernick. "I know he's not familiar with our offense. I know T.J. Yates had some experience with it in Atlanta and with us for a couple of weeks."

Weeden and Yates were two of four quarterbacks who worked out for the Titans on Tuesday. Matt Barkley and Matt McGloin were the other participants. All four have struggled as backup quarterbacks for various NFL teams.

The Titans' front office makes decisions on who to bring in for workouts. Mularkey cited Weeden's time in Dallas with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who Mularkey pulled from to create his scheme, as a prime source of familiarity.

"As quickly as we could get somebody up to speed in a short amount of time, he had the advantage over everybody," said Mularkey, who said Weeden "threw the ball well" Wednesday. "Formationally and schematically, it's very similar."

Weeden has completed 58 percent of his passes and thrown 31 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in his five NFL seasons. He's 6-19 in starts.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, has completed 60 percent of his passes and thrown for 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in his six NFL seasons. He's 28-30 in starts.

He also appears to fit the Titans' scheme, which uses a lot of read-option and run-pass option plays.

Kaepernick, who led the San Franscisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, has been unsigned since March. He remains the face of NFL players who choose to protest social injustice and police brutality after he kneeled during the anthem throughout the 2016 season to bring awareness to those issues.

Several Titans players, including wide receiver Rishard Matthews, a college teammate of Kaepernick's, have said the former 49ers quarterback is talented enough to play in the NFL but that he is being blackballed because of his vocal protest and stance against social injustice.

"I know for a fact he's ready to go," said Matthews, who mentioned he spoke with Kaepernick this week.

The Titans expect to make a final decision on whether Mariota will play later this week. He was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. Matt Cassel would get the start if Mariota could not go.