In a bit of a surprise move, the Tennessee Titans released veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on Monday afternoon.
Hasselbeck was scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary in the final year of a three-year, $21 million contract he signed in 2011 when he was was the Titans starting quarterback. He said he was open to reworking the contract, but he and the Titans could not come to an agreement.
Hasselbeck was unavailable for comment following his release.
“I want to thank Matt for his contributions to our team over the last two years,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. “He was an important part of the transition process - he was a pro at every turn and he provided an example to the rest of the team. I know that we are a better team for his being here and we wish him the best.”
The Titans met Sunday night with former Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan
Fitzpatrick at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Titans have serious interest in Fitzpatrick as a possible replacement for Hasselbeck.
Fitzpatrick was released at the start of free agency after being a three-year starter for the Bills. The Titans have already added a pair of former Bills to their roster in safety George Wilson and guard Andy Levitre.
Hasselbeck, 37, should find a market for his services as a free agent with a number of teams still looking for quality backup quarterbacks and players who could potentially compete for a starting position.
Hasselbeck was brought in to mentor Jake Locker, who won the starting quarterback job last year in training camp.
Locker told TitanInsider that he wished Hasselbeck well, but is sad to see him leave Tennessee.
“(It's) sad to see Matt go. I understand the business side of this game and am thankful for what he has taught me,” said Locker, who said he was still involved in rehab. “He is a great football player and even better person, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Hasselbeck spent two seasons with the Titans - the first season as the starter and the second as the backup to Locker.
In 2011, he produced the fourth-highest passing total in franchise history and the third-highest of his career, as he passed for 3,571 yards. Last season, he was called into action for five consecutive starts after Locker injured his shoulder. He passed for 1,367 yards and seven touchdowns in a total of eight games played in 2012. Overall, Hasselbeck has 14 years of NFL experience and has thrown for 34,517 yards and 201 touchdowns during his career.