Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan has left the team's camp in an apparent contract dispute, according to a a league source.
According to the source, Finnegan left the hotel where players and coaches are staying for training camp on Friday night and did not return. Finnegan practiced Friday afternoon and spoke to TitanInsider, but gave no indication that he was thinking of leaving camp.
In fact, it caught general manager Mike Reinfeldt off guard.
"We have tried to call him. We have not been able to get in touch with him. It's a tough situation. We have 23 guys in the last year of their contracts," he said. "I talked to Cortland during the week, Coach (Mike) Munchak did. We had some discussions with Cortland's agent. We made an offer, they made a counter offer, but we were totally surprised that he turned around and left camp."
Finnegan is in entering the final year of his contract and openly said on WNSR-AM last week with TitanInsider's Darren McFarland and ex-Titan Brad Hopkins that he believed this would be his final season with the team.
“I'm super excited for the direction we're going,” Finnegan said in that interview. “It being my last year, you wish you had a few more years in that Titans uniform, but I can only speak of one now that I'm really excited about.”
Reinfeldt said he had exchanged proposals with Finnegan's agent Terry Watson, last receiving a counter proposal from Watson late Friday afternoon.
"We had received an offer from them at five o'clock last night that we told them we were going to review and get back with them over the weekend," he said.
Efforts to reach Watson were unsuccessful.
The move is somewhat surprising in that it was Finnegan who organized team workouts during the lockout, getting as many as 40 teammates to attend a mini-camp at Father Ryan in June, a gesture appreciated by Coach Mike Munchak.
Fullback Ahmard Hall said it could undo some of the goodwill Finnegan built up in the Father Ryan workouts in the eyes of fans. He said players would wait to hear his explanation of the situation before making up their minds.
"It really depends on why he left and who he told why he left. The public as a whole, seeing him lead the Father Ryan workouts, they're going to look at it negatively," Hall said. "But as far as the players go, I'm pretty sure he'll talk to the guys and tell them what's going on and they'll make their decision from there."
Munchak raved about Finnegan's leadership during the Ryan work on Friday and stood by that on Saturday, but called his departure from camp a "disappointment."
"Everything I said yesterday is exactly true. He was here for the week, practiced well and did everything we asked him to do. He was looking good. This is obviously unexpected," Munchak said. "Disappointed is probably the easiest word. It's not something we expected."
By all indications, Finnegan is happy with the regime change, especially the hiring of Jerry Gray as defensive coordinator.
“I'm learning a ton. I know we just put in the defense and there are some growing pains, but just the little things he has been able to say along the way have been great,” Finnegan said on Friday.
Finnegan is in the final year of a contract that paid him $16.8 million over four years.
"He's making $3.8 million in salary and he'll a free agent at the end of the year. If you can find a contract extension that makes sense for both sides, we should do it. If not, making $3.8 (million) is not the worst thing in the world either," Reinfeldt said.
Finnegan was asked by TitanInsider about how much he had matured and with being married and the birth of his daughter helping in that regard as he toned down antics on the field that could cause penalties and problems. In his answer he alluded to needing to "provide" for his family.
"It's changed me tremendously. I don't want my child looking back and they show the 50 best fights of all time, and I'm on one of them," he said Friday. "I've got to definitely provide for them now. It's about being smart and taking the right approach as a leader on the team. I've just got to make plays on the field and don't let all that other extracurricular hurt your team. And that's what I plan to do this year."
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