The makeover of the Tennessee Titans is beginning as the team turned the page on a long-time fixture in the secondary Tuesday, releasing safety Michael Griffin.
Griffin, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was the Titans first-round pick in 2007 and after a brief try as a cornerback, became a fixture at free safety in the Titans secondary.
Griffin reacted to his release with a comment on his Twitter account: “I knew one day my time would come and I cherished every minute of it. It’s been real Tennessee. Thanks for everything.”
Griffin’s final game as a Titan was in Indianapolis and after that game, he joked out loud in the locker room about the possibility of his release, saying he has been asked about it for years.
Griffin told TitanInsider.com via text that his release was not about him, but that his wishes are that the Titans franchise can get things turned around.
“Not going to make this about me. Team before me. Hope this team goes in the right direction and will forever be in debt to the Adams family for giving me a chance. Thanks for the best memories of my life and and to the fans. They deserve a winning team and this team in headed in the right direction with a good coach and GM aboard,” Griffin said in the text message.
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Griffin totaled 25 interceptions during his nine-year run with the Titans, a number that ranks eighth in franchise history.
“We would like to thank Michael for all of his efforts and impact on the Titans during his nine seasons with our franchise,” said Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said in a statement. “Michael’s reputation around the NFL is as a very durable player who always gives his best both on and off the field. His passion for the game of football, dating back to his college days at Texas, is also well-known, and we wish him all the best moving forward.”
Griffin was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010, but in recent years his play had been up-and-down, and he often was a scapegoat for fans’ frustrations. The Titans drafted him 19th overall in 2007 and then signed him to a $35 million contract extension in 2012. He was entering the final year of that extension in 2016, and his release wipes $6.5 million in base salary off the Titans books for the coming year.
“I want to thank Griff for his time here with the organization,” said Titans coach Mike Mularkey. “He was a leader who showed up to work every day in an effort to get better, and I appreciated his effort both on and off the field for this team. He touched a lot of people in this community and in our organization. I want to wish him the best, and I hope he will always be remembered as a great Titan.”
The release of Griffin means the Titans will be in the market for a new free safety either through free agency or the draft. Tennessee signed Da’Norris Searcy last off-season to play strong safety and has backups in Daimion Stafford and Marqueston Huff, though neither of them are considered to be bona fide starter material.
There has also been talk that the club could move Jason McCourty from cornerback to safety, a transition his twin brother made in New England a few years ago.
The top safety available in free agency is Eric Berry, but the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to do everything they can to re-sign him.