Like Jevon Kearse a week ago, Justin McCareins decided that coming back to the site of his greatest NFL success was too good to pass up.
McCareins agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday that is worth around $1 million.
The move reunites McCareins, originally a fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2001, with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, whom he played for in Tennessee and for one season with the New York Jets in 2005.
McCareins, 29, blossomed in Heimerdinger’s offense with the Titans, catching 47 passes for 813 yards in 2003 before being dealt to the Jets for a second-round pick. McCareins’ best season in New York came his first year there when he caught 56 passes in 2004. The Jets released him at the start of free agency this year, and that move gave McCareins the chance to return to Nashville.
“Once he visited down there with coach Heimerdinger and coach [Jeff] Fisher, he knew that was where he wanted to be. He knows the offense, and he wanted to get in right away and be a part of the offseason program,” McCareins’ agent Cliff Brady said.
When he visited the Titans last Thursday, McCareins at that time expressed a strong interest in returning to the team he began his career with and reuniting with Heimerdinger.
“I owe him a lot in terms of me developing as a receiver. I don’t think I would have had any success without a guy like him kind of guiding me and fine-tuning me as a player,” McCareins said last week.
Heimerdinger too was pleased to have McCareins back in the fold.
“I am excited to have him back. Justin gives us someone who can catch it, make someone miss and get yards after catch,” said Heimerdinger. “He also gives us some toughness in the run game, digging out defensive backs.”
According to Brady, Washington, Chicago, Carolina and Miami had inquired about the former Northern Illinois standout.
The Titans have been trying to upgrade a wide receiver corps that was in need of playmakers for quarterback Vince Young after the team threw just nine touchdown passes in all of 2007.
McCareins joins a crowded group of receivers that includes Justin Gage, Roydell Williams, Brandon Jones, Chris Davis, Biren Ealy, Mike Williams and Paul Williams.
“Justin is a strong, physical receiver that has the ability to get downfield and has a lot of playing experience,” Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “There is obviously a comfort level from both sides with his previous time here, and he adds depth to the receiver group.”
The signing possibly takes the Titans out of the market for more veteran wide receiver help, though it could still be addressed in the draft.
BLAKLEY TO RETURN?: Tight end Dwayne Blakley, who visited the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, appears to be a strong candidate to fill the team’s third tight end role behind recently signed Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife.
Blakley’s agent Gary Glick indicated Wednesday that the one-time Titans practice squad player is a possibility to land back with the team, but that other teams are interested as well in pursuing the Atlanta Falcons free agent.
“Dwayne wants to go somewhere where he can fit in and compete for some playing time,” Glick said. “He is good friends with Alge Crumpler as well. He had a very good visit there, and there appears to be interest there.”
Glick and Titans officials talked again Wednesday regarding the tight end, who was with the team in training camp in 2004 and played well before being released in final cuts.
Blakley, 28, who had played in NFL Europe under the auspices of the Titans in the spring of 2004, caught seven passes in 12 games for the Falcons last year.
TEXANS HOST BROWN: Meanwhile, Titans running back Chris Brown was on his way Wednesday to visit with the Titans’ AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans. Brown, who re-signed with Tennessee last season after the team needed a veteran running back, appears to be a good fit in Houston.
“The Texans have switched to a zone blocking scheme, and we feel like that Chris fits that type of system very well,” agent Wynn Silberman said. “We are entertaining this situation with the Texans very seriously. It would be a good fit for him.”
Brown is expected to stay overnight in Houston before departing Thursday.
Also, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have shown interest in the former 1,000-yard rusher. Silberman also indicated that he and Brown had not closed the door completely on Tennessee.
WILSON WATCH: Safety Eugene Wilson, a free agent from the New England Patriots, continues to be on the open market, and the Titans apparently are still in the mix.
The sides were believed to be apart on money, but agent James Sims said money does not appear to be an issue with Tennessee.
“I don’t think money’s an issue at this point,” Sims told The City Paper on Wednesday.
Wilson started just six games for the Patriots last season and could be looking to find a place where he would be a clear starter. The Titans have said they view Wilson as a third cornerback, nickelback and/or insurance at safety if Chris Hope has issues returning from a neck injury.
HACKETT UPDATE: Wide receiver D.J. Hackett, whom the Titans had on their radar but never scheduled a visit with, will visit with Washington Redskins today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday and Carolina Panthers on Friday, according to Scout.com.
WYMS-ICAL: Ellis Wyms, who visited the Titans last week, still has them on his list of possible destinations, along with the Minnesota Vikings.
Agent Brian Levy confirmed that both clubs are still in the running for the veteran defensive lineman, who can play both tackle and end.