In the NFL, Donnie Nickey is a survivor.
Through seven pro seasons now he has made it as a Tennessee Titan, primarily because of his work on special teams.
In those seven seasons, Nickey has just seven career starts at safety, including one this year when Michael Griffin was shaken up on the opening kickoff against Indianapolis. The other six came in the 2004 season.
Twice before Nickey has been a free agent. In fact, in his rookie season, he was cut from the roster for one week when the Titans had issues and needed an extra punter.
But Nickey has always found his way back to the Titans, and for the past few years has been Tennessee’s special teams captain as well.
“This is the third time it’s been up. I’ve signed for one year and two years, so I’ve never really had any type of job security,” Nickey said of having been on the free agent market after the 2006 and 2007 seasons as well.
Over time, he has learned not to let things affect him. Of course, there is a long line of Titans free agents this off-season as Nickey is one of 11 certain unrestricted free agents, with six other players’ fates (restricted or unrestricted) hinging on the status of the collective bargaining agreement.
“The first time it happened, I got nervous. There’s a lot of uncertainty in things, but that stuff is not really in my control,” Nickey said. “I’m just going to let the powers that be decide what to do, weigh my options when it comes time and if I have my choice, I always would come here. We’ll see what happens.”
After the ’07 season, Nickey visited the Pittsburgh Steelers, but soon after that visit, he wound up signing a new deal to remain a Titan. His agent Jeffrey Chilcoat said he and the Titans have had some brief dialogue about Nickey’s status, and that he hopes talks will pick up in about a month or so.
“We’ve communicated, but it’s way premature to know what they’re going to do on Donnie. He sure loves Tennessee. He’d love to come back. Despite offers in the past, we’ve always wanted to make sure he comes back to Tennessee, because he really loves the community,” Chilcoat said.