Titans release No. 3 QB, choose to look for veteran

Originally Published: September 5, 2004
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans released Jason Gesser, their third quarterback, on Sunday and plan to replace him with a veteran.

Gesser, who shared the 2002 Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year award with Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, made the Tennessee roster as an undrafted free agent last year only because the Titans needed cheap help. Palmer now starts for the Cincinnati Bengals.

But when both Steve McNair and Billy Volek were down with injuries last December, the Titans re-signed Neil O'Donnell rather than play the untested Gesser.

Releasing Eddie George in July gave the Titans enough space under the salary cap to sign a veteran. They worked out Doug Johnson on Friday, and coach Jeff Fisher said a deal could be reached within the next couple of days.

"Things look good. We're optimistic. Doug as we speak is trying to get his family out of Florida. He's very busy with that right now," Fisher said.

Jarrett Payton, son of the late Walter Payton who was a former teammate of Fisher's in Chicago, was one of two running backs released, along with Vick King. Fisher said Payton knew the situation from the start.

"He was going to be given an opportunity to get better. He took care of the ball in preseason games and to be evaluated. That's what we did. We kept our commitment to him," Fisher said.

Ten players were released Sunday, with two others waived-injured.

But for a team that added four players after the final cut in 2003 who played in the season opener, more changes are coming as the Titans scan the waiver wire.

"There's a possibility for anything to happen," Fisher said. "I'm not going to say we're looking to trade one of our players right now. But there's a need around the league for players. If the value's there and the right situation comes up, we will consider everything."

The Titans kept 11 defensive backs, six cornerbacks and five safeties.

They need some help at defensive end where two of their rookie draft picks currently are hurt, including Bo Schobel on the physically unable to perform list.

"If we don't get it, we'll be fine," Fisher said of his defensive ends. "We'll go in and we'll play hard, and we'll be fine."

The Titans have only five healthy linebackers with Brad Kassell nursing a partially torn Achilles' tendon.

Tennessee kept 12 of its 13 draft picks, including Schobel on the PUP list. Tight end Sean McHugh, a seventh-round pick out of Penn State, was the only draftee released.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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