MOBILE, Ala. _ Other than plenty of well wishers and a few job-seekers few dropping resumes in his lap, Ruston Webster says his first Senior Bowl as the Tennessee Titans general manager has not really changed that much.
“That's definitely changed,” Webster said of the congratulatory greetings he has received this week at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and around town, “And from that standpoint, it's been like that with people coming up to me, which is really great. There's a lot of people that you've kind of come up in the business with and they've been great to me, and I'm really appreciative of that.”
Other than that, though, it is business as usual as Webster and the Titans will interview 30 to 40 players in the evenings after the practices to being the process of deciding who fits what needs the team has.
“It hasn't changed a whole lot,” he said. “When we come here, we're evaluating the guys in practice and comparing it to what we've already seen from them there during the year. Then, we'll be interviewing them and getting to know them a little bit. We were all on the same page beginning last year and that's what we're looking for. That part of it doesn't change for me.”
The evaluation of talent at the Senior Bowl is the first step toward retooling the Titans roster this off-season.
“This is the first chance we really have to get with these guys and ask questions, find out about their background and to get to know them,” Webster said. “It's a good time to get all that started. We're still gathering information from a scouting standpoint, and part of it is getting that information in the interviews.”
Webster says he sees some players in Mobile, who can potentially help Tennessee in its areas of need – namely defensive line, secondary and the interior of the offensive line.
“I think there's some good players here that can make an impact for us and be good, solid pros,” Webster said. “There are definitely some guys here that can help us, which is good to see. It's also good to see that the guys are beginning to get comfortable with their offensive and defensive systems after af couple of days and are able to show out a little bit more.”
Once Webster gets back to Nashville on Thursday evening, he can then begin the process of sorting through the 17 remaining free agents the Titans have.
Tennessee re-signed tight end Craig Stevens to a four-year, $14.4 million extension and now being determining which of the remaining free agents will be a priority.
“You've got a guy that wants to be here, and we wanted him here and all that,” Webster said. “It was a doable deal that happened in a short period of time. He's a guy we like. He's tough, he shows up to work every day and want to keep those types of guys around.”
Big names on the free agent list for Tennessee include cornerback Cortland Finnegan, safety Michael Griffin, guard Jake Scott and defensive linemen Dave Ball and Jason Jones – all long-time contributors in Tennessee.
“We'll get in and start grinding away and take our time and make the best decisions we can,” Webster said. “We'll be talking about everything and I'm sure that everybody (on the staff) has soemthing in mind. We'll go through and evaluate our own guys and also take a look at the guys that are potentially going to be out there from other teams.”
As for those veteran Titans like Finnegan, Griffin and the others, Webster said, “All those guys have been really good players for us. We're kind of starting the process so to speak. Obviously, those guys have been good players and we appeciate everything they've done. But we really haven't made any decisions on anyone yet.”
Webster said the Titans would keep all of their options open as they evaluate, including the possibility of using the franchise tag if need be.
“I think you've got to look at every situation differently,” Webster said. “I don't think you want to take anything off the table. I don't think there should be any straight philosophy one way or the other. Every decision will be looked at individually, and we'll make the decision off of that.”
Though Webster will be in charge of the personnel decisions now as GM, he said he will still employ the collective input of his scouts and staff as well as head coach Mike Munchak and coordinators Jerry Gray and Chris Palmer.
“We've got a really good situation in that everybody will be involved from that standpoint,” Webster said. “I think Munch and I have a good relationship and I've dealt with Jerry and Chris, and we'll talk everything through. There won't be any decisions made without their input.”