Jeff Fisher chose his words carefully.
Fearful that he might create the perception of tampering he offered a vague response but attempted to make clear that any possibility that the Tennessee Titans might trade for defensive end Albert Haynesworth is gone.
That’s if there ever was a possibility. Not that he was saying there was or there wasn’t. Or that he ever mentioned Haynesworth, a former Titan, by name.
It’s just that the Titans’ decision to draft defensive end Derrick Morgan in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday and the fact that defensive tackle Tony Brown signed a new three-year contract nullified any possible pursuit of Haynesworth.
“The door was never open,” Fisher said. “But I mean, if you think about it. If there was the potential scenario – now he is under contract, I have to clarify that – that our strategy would have changed in the first round, if that scenario was available.
“So, therefore, I think we can all come to the conclusion that the door is shut.”
Late in the morning the team announced it had re-signed Brown, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2009 when he had 61 tackles, a career-high five sacks and three forced fumbles. The 29-year-old joined the Titans in 2006 and has played 58 games for them over the past four seasons.
In the evening, when it was their turn to pick, they settled on Morgan, a 6-foot-3, 266-pounder out of Georgia Tech who they had targeted in the weeks and days preceding the draft.
“Coach Fisher (said) he was happy to have me,” Morgan said. “He said, ‘I told you (during a pre-draft interview) we were going to need some D-line help. I asked them what direction they were going to go and he told me D-line.”
There have been reports in recent weeks that the Titans were looking for help in the form of Haynesworth, a player they drafted in the first round (15th overall) in 2002. Haynesworth played seven seasons for Tennessee before he signed a lucrative free agent contract with Washington a little more than a year ago.
In the midst of all that speculation Tennessee did re-sign defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson and added restricted free agent defensive end Jason Babin.
Now Brown is locked up and Morgan is on his way.
“(Morgan) really helps us up front,” Fisher said. “We are doing well right now up front. Sen’Derrick [Marks] is having a great offseason and (Babin) is healed up and of course we have Tony [Brown] locked up. We feel pretty good about where we are up front.”
Morgan is the first defensive lineman drafted by Tennessee in the first round since Haynesworth. His directly impacts whether or not Haynesworth comes back … not that anyone ever said he was or was not.
“(Drafting Morgan) strengthens our defensive line, obviously,” general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “So it makes us less likely to consider defensive line additions.”