NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Through the eyes of Titans general manager Jon Robinson, quarterback Marcus Mariota has been "as advertised" during the first month of the team's offseason program.
"He has command, and he has a nice presence to him out there,'' Robinson said of Mariota. "All of the players really look to him. His skills, he has really good throwing talent. He is a mobile quarterback who is a fluid mover in the pocket, a fluid mover outside of the pocket. There is really, really good upside with him."
Robinson said he's also very comfortable with veteran quarterback Matt Cassel. And he has familiarity with Alex Tanney, the third quarterback on the roster.
It's largely why the team made the decision to part ways with quarterback Zach Mettenberger on Monday. Robinson said the Titans waived Mettenberger now so he'd have a chance to land with another team early in the offseason, and get comfortable himself. On Tuesday, the San Diego Chargers claimed Mettenberger.
"I really like Matt,'' Robinson said of Cassel, a veteran of 11 seasons in the NFL who has played previously with the Patriots, Chiefs, Vikings, Bills and Cowboys. Cassel has thrown for 17,003 yards and 101 touchdowns in his career.
"He's a veteran presence, and the fact that he's played in a lot of games is a plus,'' Robinson continued. "He's been a productive player in this league, a reliable, dependable player. We felt that he's more than capable of going into the game and getting us through a stretch of games if Marcus were to get hurt. And the veteran leadership, knowledge, that he adds to the room with Marcus and Alex."
Tanney made his NFL debut in the season-finale against the Colts last season, and finished 10-of-14 for 99 yards and a touchdown. He's spent time with the Bills, Cowboys, Browns and Buccaneers in his career. Robinson was in Tampa Bay when Tanney was there in 2014.
"He has really done a nice job,'' Robinson said of Tanney. "We had him in Tampa when I was down there for a little bit and he was the third or fourth quarterback through camp. He has improved, he works hard, does what he is coached to do."
Whether the Titans keep all three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster this season remains to be seen, however.
"That's a big picture question,'' Robinson said. "It depends upon, A, the progress of the third quarterback. Do we see the potential there for him to develop into more than a third quarterback? It depends on other positions on the team, whether we need to keep a fifth safety, a sixth corner, an extra d-lineman, an extra offensive lineman. Whatever it is, we just have to do what we think is best to get the best 53 on the team that will get us through the course of the season."
Mettenberger, who played at LSU, had plenty of opportunities in Tennessee over the past two seasons while filling in for injured starters. His final stats with the team: 208-of-345 for 2,347 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Titans were 0-10 in Mettenberger's 10 starts, however.
Rather than holding onto Mettenberger, Robinson said he thought it would be best for both sides to make a decision now.
"Just trying to be fair to Zach and allow him to get started, get a fresh start, and go compete somewhere for a spot and playing time,'' Robinson said. "Having Marcus here kind of afforded us that option to do it sooner rather than later and really give Zach and his young career a chance to grow in a new system, a new environment.''
In San Diego, Mettenberger will be reunited with former Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who's now offensive coordinator with the Chargers. The Giants and Bengals also put in a claim for Mettenberger.
Robinson said he talked to teams about a possible trade for Mettenberger, but nothing materialized.
"There were a lot of teams we touched base with over the course of the draft weekend that had interest in Zach, and a lot of those teams ended up selecting quarterbacks at some point in the draft,'' Robinson said. "For whatever reason those discussions never really manifested, or culminated into anything."
Robinson wished Mettenberger, a sixth-round draft pick by the Titans in 2014, well. He'll be competing for a spot behind starter Philip Rivers in San Diego.
"Every team is looking for quarterbacks in this league for sure, and having two capable ones or three on a roster, that's everybody's goal,'' Robinson said. "For Zach, being able to acclimate him back with the system there in San Diego, it will be good for him."