With Craig Hentrich retired and Keith Bulluck prepared to exit via free agency, the new longest-tenured Tennessee Titan might just become backup safety and special teams captain Donnie Nickey, whose agent is in negotiation talks with the team.
As well, a league source informed The City Paper that midseason pickup Rod Hood is also a player the Titans have made overtures toward retaining.
Nickey is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 5, but his agent, Jeffrey Chilcoat, confirmed on Friday that the two sides are trying to negotiate an extension that could be agreed upon before the free agency period begins.
“We’ve been talking, and I think there’s a good chance,” Chilcoat said. “We’re still working through it, but we’re making good progress.”
Nickey, a fifth-round pick in 2002 from Ohio State, has been a core player on special teams ever since his arrival in Nashville.
“He certainly wants to be there,” Chilcoat said. “I think if we renewed it would make him the longest tenured player because it doesn’t look like Keith is coming back.”
Bulluck has been with the Titans for 10 seasons, but as of earlier this week, the Titans had still not made any major moves toward re-signing him to an extension.
Nickey, who turns 30 in April, has been an unrestricted free agent twice before and come back to Tennessee both times.
Hood was picked up as a street free agent after injuries to Nick Harper and Vincent Fuller decimated the secondary in mid-season. Hood proceeded to intercept passes in each of his first three starts for the Titans but was relegated back to backup status when Harper returned from a broken forearm.
Hood said at the end of the season that he would like to stay in Tennessee. The seven-year veteran had spent time with Philadelphia and Arizona but was released in a short span last preseason by both Cleveland and Chicago.
“It’s a good team, a good coaching staff and good players. If the opportunity presented itself, I would [come back]. I would like to be here,” Hood said at season’s end.
If Hood were to be re-signed, he likely would be thrown into the mix with Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty plus a potential draft pick or free agent to start at cornerback opposite Cortland Finnegan. Harper is also a free agent, leaving his status up in the air as well.