TITANS PRESS CONFERENCE WITH GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER AND SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFIN
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
We're obviously very happy today to announce, as you've already heard, that we've agreed to an extension with Michael Griffin. He is a big part of what we're trying to do moving forward. We really want to keep a core of our players together. I think that's important in building a team. Michael has the talent and the character we look for in our players. He's handled himself like a true pro through this whole franchise-tag thing, and I couldn't be happier to sign him to a new deal and have him be a Titan for a long time.
(on how many years the deal is for)
It's a five-year deal. I don't want to get too much into the contract though.
(on how much Griffin's positive attitude impacted the agreement)
It played a big role in it, and that's not to minimize him as a player. He's a talented player who can make a lot of things happen on the football field. But how he handled the situation—a tough situation—it's not real easy; you get a lot of pressure from different areas to be a certain way and do certain things. In my mind, he handled it like a true pro.
SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on why he chose to participate throughout the offseason)
Because right now there's no football games that are supposed to be played until September. Sitting out during voluntary workouts and what not I don't think is helping the team whatsoever. At the same time, last year, with the lockout, I wasn't able to learn the new defense. This year, just being able to come out here and learn the ins and outs of the defense, being with my teammates, that was what was more important to me than sitting at home, working out by myself. Plus, you're covered being able to work out here. Coach (Steve) Watterson does a tremendous job working out. You can see last year, a lot of people weren't able to work out with their teams with the lockout. There was a lot of injuries last year, and I think that was due to not being able to get the correct training preparing for the season. It worked out great, just to be here with the teammates. You can see it, just being out here every day with them, learning the defense's ins and outs, helping the younger guys. I think that was the best thing I could do for this team.
(on how big of a relief it is to receive a new contract)
It hasn't come to me yet. It's not true yet to me. I think just the difference is a contract extension, but again, my job is to play football. I'll be back out here again tomorrow. There was no pressure at all. I just continued to play football and wasn't really talking to my agent. I think both sides, the organization and myself, handled it great and kept it within the organization and out of the public.
(on knowing the team "has his back")
The team, I think, always had my back. There was never a doubt in my mind that the team thought anything about me in a negative way. Like I've said before, we all watch the same game film. You have your ups, and you have your downs. I'm just happy that the team just backed me 100 percent.
(on how much he learned from other players over the years about how to handle this situation)
You know what? I handled it my way. I told my agent as soon as the offseason program started that I wanted to be here. I just asked him was there an injury clause or something I can sign that I can participate with my teammates. That was all that was important to me, just to be here working out with the team. I've had a great time this offseason. Two more days, and then we all break. I can't wait until training camp, just to get back around this group of guys. This is my job. This is like my family. So I just enjoy being around them.
(on if he was getting advice not to be here and going against that advice)
You get advice here and there, but it's a great organization, a great city. It reminds me a lot of back home, and basically Nashville became a home. I want to be here as long as possible.
(on if he feels like he will finish his career in Tennessee)
I feel like I will. You know, five years down the road, you just never know what may happen. With all that being said, I'm going to go out there and give 110 percent.
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
(on how important it is to know they have Griffin locked into a long-term contract considering the youth at safety)
That's very important, and you're right. We are young at safety in terms of our depth. Jordan Babineaux is a seasoned player and a good player. We talked a little bit about leading our young defense. Overall, we're young defensively, and I think Michael can really help. He's been through the tough times, he's been through the tough games, he's played in tough situations, and he's made plays in tough situations. I feel like his leadership can really help a young group of good, talented defensive players.
SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on if he was worried that this situation would turn out like Cortland Finnegan's prior situation)
Not at all. Cortland is a great friend. I spoke to him yesterday. He should be back in town right now. I have nothing but positive things to say about Cortland—great guy and did a lot of things for this team. All I can do is wish him luck with Coach Fisher and the St. Louis Rams. Outside of that, great guy and I can't say anything negative about Cortland.
(on if he learned anything about the way Finnegan handled his situation)
Like I said before, however he handled it, five years, 50 million dollars later, I don't know how you could say you could handle it any better. With all that said, hey, he handled it the way he needed to handle it, and it worked out for him. That's all I'm going to say.
(on if he told his family about the contract yet)
No, I haven't told her yet. Like I said, it hasn't all sunk in yet. I know I have to go take my son to the carnival later on today. That's all I'm thinking when I leave here. I've got to get him to the carnival and get him in bed in time for tomorrow.
(on what he needs to do better this season)
Consistency. Make the plays I know I'm capable of making, plays I've made in the past. Not try to do too much. Just stay focused, and I think that's the most I can do for this team: play my game, be consistent, and let the game come to me and stop trying to make plays.
(on not having to go through a season of uncertainty like Finnegan did)
It's hard to say. I don't know what Cortland's plan was. I don't know exactly what was going on. It involved him, his agency and upstairs. That was his business, and he took care of things. I talked it over with my agent, and I took care of things the way I took care of things. It was two different scenarios. I think both ended up in a positive manner, and that's all you can judge off of. I guess you can ask questions to other players with other organizations and see how that goes. In the end, I think me and Cortland both ended up in a positive situation.
(on if it is a relief it's now done)
Of course. It's a relief. Just to know that next year is promised and to keep going from there. Playing on a one-year deal, I think it puts pressure on you. It shouldn't. You should just go out there and play the game, but I think it does put pressure on you. It's a relief, and all you do is thank this whole organization: Mr. Webster, (Mike) Reinfeldt, Munch, Bud Adams. Thank all of them just for giving me the opportunity and believing in me. That's all I do is thank this organization.
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
(on the intention of getting to this day when they put the franchise tag on Griffin)
Eventually yes. Michael, like I said, himself made it easy for us to get there a little quicker.
(on if the contract was reached sooner than expected)
(on what he likes about Griffin's game and knowing Griffin is under contract)
Oh yeah, definitely. I'll put my scouting hat on. You've got a safety with size, speed, athletic ability, ball skills, he's tough, he can play in the box, and he can play deep. He can intercept the ball and make plays, and I think we can help him more. The more rush we get, the more balls are going to be up there for him to get, and we're just going to continue to get better, not only on the back end with him being here long term, but also up front. I like the way our defense is heading.
(on the need to add depth at safety before the season starts)
We'll look at it. Right now I think all these guys in camp are doing a good job. We've got Markelle (Martin). Once he gets a little healthier, he'll be ready to go to training camp and we'll have a good competition there. I think it would be hard to find somebody to come in and replace them.
(on what the key was to getting a deal done with Griffin)
It was both sides agreeing that it wouldn't be contentious and working together and working to a common goal to get Michael signed. I said the way he handled it, but also the way his agent, Ben Dogra, handled it, they did a great job on that. Vin Marino on our side did an outstanding job. I feel like it was just kind of, I want to say, a team effort on both sides. We had a goal to get this done, and we were able to get it done on a fair deal for Michael and a fair deal for us. We're excited. It worked out well.
(on the need for depth at cornerback)
I like our corners. I'm telling you guys, I like our young guys. I like the way they're competing, and I like the way they're playing. There's been players putting in a lot of effort this offseason, and so I wouldn't want to minimize anything they've done to this point to get themselves ready and to make this team.
(on if they can now move on trying to sign other players to contract extensions)
We'll see how all of that goes. We like all of those players, and we'll just kind of see where things go from here.
(on the progress in contract talks with first-round pick Kendall Wright)
I feel confident that Kendall will get done, and I'll be excited when it does get done. But I feel confident. I don't know when it will be; I can't say that right now. Michael's been our focus here the last couple weeks. But it will get done, and it will be fun having Kendall back out here.