NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans released Vince Young on Thursday, finally cutting ties with the quarterback they made the No. 3 pick overall in the 2006 draft.
The move comes nearly eight months after owner Bud Adams said the team would trade or release Young.
Young is 30-18 in five seasons, including a playoff loss, but just 13-14 against teams finishing a season at .500 or better. He’s battled questions over his work ethic, leadership and injuries.
He ended 2010 on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending thumb injury on his right, throwing hand Nov. 21. That was the day he tossed his shoulder pads into the stands and told off then-coach Jeff Fisher in front of the rest of the team before storming out.
Adams once said Young “is my guy,” but general manager and executive vice-president Mike Reinfeldt made the argument it was time for him to go.
“As we have said since January, it was time for us to go in a different direction at quarterback and we have done that,” Reinfeldt said in a statement Thursday.
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With the new labour deal, the Titans had to move quickly to avoid paying Young a US$4.25 million roster bonus that had previously been due on the 10th day of a new league year. He also was scheduled for $8.5 million in salary this season, making him too pricey to trade to another team.
Young said in January he looked forward to a new beginning and a new team. He has been working out throughout the lockout near his Houston home.
Tennessee drafted Young to succeed his own mentor, Steve McNair, and he started off as The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006. He helped the Titans go 10-6 with a wild-card playoff spot in 2007. But he got hurt in the 2008 opener followed a day later by Fisher calling police to help find Young when his mother worried about him speeding off in his Mercedes.
He didn’t start again until Adams ordered him back into the lineup after an 0-6 start in 2009, and Young helped the Titans win eight of their final nine games. In 2010, he started eight of nine games but couldn’t finish three games because of injuries. He was 93 of 156 for 1,255 yards and 10 touchdowns with only three interceptions and a career-best 98.6 passer rating.
Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins, who retired earlier this month, was a teammate of Young’s since 2006 and said he saw the troubled passer improve in 2010.
“Some guys go through things early in their career. I certainly did,” said Collins, who struggled with alcohol in his early NFL years. “You just hope that guys figure it out, and you know I think the question out there is whether he has,” Collins said.
“I saw signs of him figuring it out a little bit. Maybe there’s still hope.”
Young was one of six players the Titans waived on the first day teams were allowed to release players after the NFL’s 4 1/2-month lockout ended. Tennessee also released defensive tackle Tony Brown, running back Dominique Lindsay, defensive end Marcus Howard, defensive end Kareem Brown and offensive lineman Jeff Hansen.
Brown signed a three-year contract extension worth $17 million before last season but has been hampered by injuries to his right knee. He spent five seasons with the Titans, starting the last four.
“As for Tony, his body just hasn’t allowed him to play like he has in the past despite his best efforts,” Reinfeldt said. “(Young and Brown) have been productive for us, and we appreciate their contributions to our team through the years.”