Ex-Raiders QB Collins signs with Titans, could start

In a move that could shake up the team's depth chart before the start of the season, the Tennessee Titans on Monday afternoon signed veteran free-agent quarterback Kerry Collins.

ESPN.com previously reported in the "Tip Sheet" last Friday that the Titans, who had a brief flirtation with Collins earlier in the offseason but backed off signing him at the time, had rekindled their interest, and that a few other teams were considering him as well. The Tennessean of Nashville reported Sunday night on its Web site that discussions between the Titans and Collins accelerated over the weekend.

Collins will challenge incumbent Billy Volek for the starting job, coach Jeff Fisher all but conceded, once he is able to assimilate the offense. Collins had indicated in the offseason, when there was much speculation about his future, that he would probably only resume his career if there was a team willing to provide him a chance for playing time.

At one point in the offseason, Collins considered retirement.

"Billy's got some competition," Fisher acknowledged Monday evening. "I've spoken with Billy. [He's] not too awfully pleased with it, but that's life in the NFL."

It is unusual for a team to bring in a potential starting quarterback so close to the start of the season, but the Tennessee offense has struggled under the stewardship of current starter Billy Volek, and it is obvious that first-round draft choice Vince Young is not ready yet to assume the No. 1 job. Volek has been a backup his entire six-year career, but moved to the top of the depth chart when the Titans traded Steve McNair to the Baltimore Ravens.

"This is a team that I feel I can contribute to and make an
impact in," Collins said of the Titans. "I've had opportunities to go different
places. This was the one that I've really been targeting. I'm just
glad it worked out."

Ironically, the Ravens were a team that considered signing Collins before they acquired McNair, who has supplanted Kyle Boller as their starter.

Regarded as one of the NFL's top backup quarterbacks, Volek, 30, is 3-7 in 10 career starts. In his starts, the former Fresno State standout has four games of 250-plus passing yards and in 2004 posted consecutive 400-yard outings. But there have been rumors for much of training camp that Volek was struggling and that some members of the coaching staff were not sold on him as the starter.

"It's mine to lose, and even though we're not putting a lot of
points on the board ... I feel comfortable with this," Volek said.

Tennessee is Collins' fifth different NFL team. He began his career as a first-round choice of the Carolina Panthers in 1995 and played three seasons there before he was released in 1998 after apprising the team that his heart was no longer in the game. In addition to the Panthers, he has played with New Orleans (1998), the New York Giants (1999-2003) and Oakland (2004-2005).

The former Penn State star led Carolina to an NFC championship game berth in 1996 and piloted the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV in 2000. He has appeared in 152 games, and started 145 of them, completing 2,826 of 5,082 passes for 33,637 yards, with 173 touchdown passes and 166 interceptions. Collins has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of the last six seasons.

Collins is 66-79 record as a starter.

Both Collins and Volek agreed the competition will be good.

"It's going to make us a better team whoever comes out the
other end of it," Collins said. "I know it's tough. I've been in
the situation myself. We do have to be professional. I think we can
work together."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.