NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jurrell Casey’s second contract extension came with two years still left on his first.

The Titans talked of the defensive lineman as an exception to the usual rules for contract extensions.

He’s an excellent player who’s fully bought into what the team wants and does. He’s great in the community. He’s all they want.

With him locked up through 2022, who are the next priorities for new deals?

 

The 2014 draft class figures in big here. Casey is one of only two payers, along with Karl Klug, still on the roster from the 2011, 2012, 2013 drafts.

Here are my top three:

Left tackle Taylor Lewan. After a player is drafted, he can’t renegotiate his contract in his first three years. Lewan is entering his fourth, and in the spring the Titans picked up his fifth-tear option for 2018. His base salary will jump from $1.986 million to $9.341 million (numbers from Sportrac.) They are going to jump a lot more for 2019. He should be priority No. 1, though it by no means has to happen before or during this season.

Comps: An NFL scouting source thinks Lewan compares favorably with Nate Solder of New England and is better than Eric Fisher of Kansas City. Solder got a two-year deal worth over $20 million in 2016, with a $12.5 million signing bonus and total guarantees of $19.938 million. Lewan will do better than that. Fisher got four years at $48 million, with a $12.75 million signing bonus and $22 million guaranteed. Lewan should eclipse that too. The highest current average for a left tackle in the NFL is Washington’s Trent Williams at $13.6 million. There isn't a hurry, but doing it sooner uses up cap space sooner, leaving more later for Marcus Mariota and others.

Inside linebacker Avery Williamson: A rare, mid-round find for the Titans previous regime, Williamson is a solid and steady player in the middle of the field. He became an every-down player pretty quickly. In 2016, he had some lapses in pass coverage and the Titans hope to get better at covering tight ends this season. Whether he’s a big part of the answer or not, he’s a quality starter who’s making $1.797 million this season and is on track for unrestricted free agency in 2018. He could well be the next guy they try to lock down.

Comps: The scouting source sees Williams as akin to Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny and the Jets’ Demario Davis. Posluszny’s heading into the final year of a contract that paid him an average of $5 million year and came with $3.95 guaranteed. Davis only managed a one-year, $2.225 million deal with New York. Here's the issue. If you go to Williamson now with a deal for about $4 milion a year, is he insulted by it. If so does it affect him? Those are the kind of things general manager Jon Robinson needs to sort through as he contemplates approaches.

Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones: A quiet but effective contributor he was a fourth-round choice in 2014 when Williamson was a fifth-rounder. He’s started every game over the last two seasons and brings size, power and athleticism to Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 front. Angelo Blackson and Austin Johnson were drafted in the years following Jones’ selection. If those guy grow, the Titans could sustain losing Jones if he gets to free agency and someone makes a big approach. But if he continues to grow and draw strong reviews from them, I think they will want to hold on to him.

Comps: Chris Baker of Tampa Bay and Branden Mebane of San Diego. Baker is in a three-year deal that came with a $5.25 million annual average and $6 million guaranteed. Mebane also has a three-year deal. He averages $4.5 million and got $5.5 million guaranteed.

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