Source: Collins told he'll start in '09

When Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher broke the news to Kerry Collins last week that he was headed to the Pro Bowl, he also communicated directly to Collins that he indeed wants him back as his starting quarterback in 2009, a team source told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

Fisher had made public remarks that Collins deserved to be the starter based on his performance this season, but a source said his private reaffirmation thrilled Collins, who has said he will retire if he does not get a contract as a starting quarterback.

Collins, who was voted as a Pro Bowl alternate and replaces Brett Favre on the AFC roster, is scheduled to become a free agent in March. Though Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt has had some philosophical contract discussions with Collins' representatives, there has been no real negotiations as of yet.

If a contract is completed for Collins, it means former first-round draft pick Vince Young will have to cope with the disappointment of losing his job to the veteran. A team source said Young has promised to have a good attitude and work ethic this offseason.

However, the team has a desire to re-sign Chris Simms, who was the third-string quarterback. Simms also is set to be a free agent, but the Titans believe he showed tremendous progress throughout the season in practice and believe he is now fully healthy after complications from having his spleen removed during the 2006 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.