Picturing Eddie George as anything but a Titan is difficult By Dan Arkush (firstname.lastname@example.org) June 1, 2004 Is it June 1 already? Man, that’s hard to believe. But what’s even harder to believe as the second phase of free agency officially kicks in today is the strong possibility that Eddie George’s career with the Titans has run its course. It’s a career that is definitely on the downside, as toe and ankle injuries have taken a mighty toll on George’s 31-year-old body. But even though he averaged a scant 3.3 yards per carry last season, George still rushed for 1,031 yards — the eighth time in nine seasons he gained 1,000 yards or more rushing. And even though he was obviously at less than full strength in the Titans’ wild-card win in Baltimore this past January, George rose up to the occasion with one of the gutsiest efforts of the season. There was talk at this writing that the Titans could still reach a last-minute agreement with George, who despite his aches and pains has never missed a game. We repeat: never. Eddie George has been the Titans’ ground game for the last decade, and although his best days are clearly behind him, he would appear to still have a lot to offer in Tennessee, where the expected featured back this coming season, second-year pro Chris Brown, is an unproven commodity with his own share of injury issues. But Titans owner Bud Adams said he was “very pessimistic” about his team’s ability to keep George at the most recent owners meeting, and George has been reluctant to take the pay cut to roughly half of his $4.25 million base salary that the Titans were seeking. The Titans, you see, set a shaky precedent last June when they released MLB Randall Godfrey just a few months after he had agreed to take a $2.5 million pay cut. Godfrey, it should be noted, was a respected team leader, as is George. Although the Titans always rank among the most resilient teams in the league and still have one of the league’s best quarterbacks and a deep, well-rounded receiving corps despite the loss of Justin McCareins, I think the loss of George, coupled with the free-agent departures of DE Jevon Kearse and DT Robaire Smith, just might take its toll both on and off the field. As for George, NFL free-agent trackers see a potential path clearing for him in the direction of Oakland, where Al Davis has been loading up on oldies-but-goodies like there’s no tomorrow. There also have been rumblings that the Eagles, who have already made a bigger free-agent splash than usual this offseason with the high-profile signings of Kearse and ex-49ers WR Terrell Owens, could have an interest in George, a native of Philly. I haven’t heard anything to suggest that Dallas might be interested in him, but I think George would be a gorgeous complement to rookie Julius Jones in the Cowboys’ backfield. Rest assured, George will provide an impact for some team, provided he comes to grips with the reality of his market value ($2.5 million — maximum — at the moment). He is 991 yards short of reaching 11,000 yards rushing and is a good bet to reach that mark wherever he might land. As for the rest of the June 1 booty, two other valuable possibilities worth noting are LBs Jeremiah Trotter and Jason Gildon, who wore out their welcomes in Washington and Pittsburgh, respectively. Trotter, a two-time Pro Bowler, is a run-stuffing middle linebacker who can help a bunch of teams, including Seattle, a team that for some reason is insisting it has no interest in him (must be his knees). Gildon is an accomplished pass rusher (77 sacks in 10 seasons) who could also be a great fit in a number of defenses. Arizona, which has a ton of cap money to play with, is at the top of that list. Let the summer shopping begin.