NASHVILLE, TN, Feb. 20, 2009 — The Tennessee Titans prize dependability in a kicker. Rob Bironas wanted to stay with the team that gave him his first chance in the NFL after the years he spent kicking away in the Arena Football League and working odd jobs including a desk job for his father.
The Titans have locked up Rob Bironas, one of the NFL's elite kickers, for the next four years.
Now he's not going anywhere.
The Titans signed Bironas to a four-year, $12 million contract with $5 million guaranteed in a deal reached Wednesday night, and the kicker said he was happy to avoid the franchise tag with its one-year promise.
"Seems like since I've been in this league it's been week by week with my first contract, then played the tender one year last year and would've been another one-year franchise deal," Bironas said Thursday. "I'm glad to have a little security and know that the Titans did what it took to put together a deal...and put four years ahead of me where I know I'll be playing in Tennessee."
The deal allowed the Titans to use the franchise tag on tight end Bo Scaife on Thursday afternoon a couple hours before the NFL deadline. The Titans also have 12 other players who become free agents on Feb. 27 — with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and quarterback Kerry Collins the biggest names poised to hit the market.
But Thursday was a day to savor for Bironas, a kicker who was in camp with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. He spent two seasons in the Arena Football League and one in its minor league, the Af2.
Then Bironas got his chance with the Titans in 2005 and won the job. The Louisville, Ky., native has been making his mark ever since.
"Rob's worked hard, he's worked a long time. He started at kind of the bottom and worked his way up," Reinfeldt said. "He's gone to the Pro Bowl. He's one of the best kickers. It's kind of a cool story."
He beat Indianapolis in December 2006 with a 60-yard field goal, set an NFL record with eight field goals in one game on Oct. 21, 2007, and led the league with 35 field goals. He was voted an All Pro and to the Pro Bowl.
That earned him a one-year tender for 2008 for $1.47 million. He responded by tying for second in the AFC and seventh in the NFL with 127 points in 2008 when he connected on 29 of 33 field goals, including tying a team-record with 20 straight, and ranked second in the NFL with a career-high 22 touchbacks on 84 kickoffs.
Bironas now ranks as the NFL's fifth most accurate kicker all-time at 84.5 percent and fourth all-time in team scoring.
The job security just brings a different pressure.
"It's one of those things you succeed and you keep working harder. The road's never done until you're ready to give it up. The minute you lay back and relax a little bit is when it can be taken away. I worked hard to get here. I'm going to keep working hard to keep it," Bironas said.
"I'm excited today. It's a good day, good day for me, the organization and I look forward to winning how.