Jim Wyatt / The Tennessean
NASHVILLE (The Tennessean) - The Titans won't exercise the fifth-year option on Jake Locker's contract, which means the quarterback will be playing for his future in Tennessee this season.
The decision, which hasn't been announced by the team but was communicated by sources familiar with the situation, comes as no surprise. Locker has a history of injuries and the option is expensive.
The deadline for teams to pick up the fifth-year option for players from the 2011 draft is Saturday.
According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, such options pay the top 10 picks the average of the top 10 players at their respective position. For quarterbacks, that figure is roughly $14.6 million.
Another concern for the Titans: in the event of an injury, the option becomes guaranteed.
Locker, who was the eighth overall pick of the 2011 draft, is scheduled to make $2.091 million this season.
So is this his final year with the Titans? Not necessarily. They will have the option to keep him for 2015 by using the franchise or transition tag, or by agreeing to a new contract.
The franchise tag is a one-year deal that guarantees the player the average of the five largest current-year salaries at his position. The transition tag, also a one-year deal, pays the average of the 10 largest prior-year salaries at his position.
The 2011 draft class was the first subjected to the new CBA salary structure for rookies, when the fifth-year options came into play. Five of the top seven picks in that year's draft class have reportedly had their options picked up.
Locker, who is recovering from foot surgery in November, has plenty to prove. He's missed 14 of a possible 32 starts over the past two seasons because of injuries. His record as a starter is 8-10 with 15 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
When the Titans began a three-day minicamp on Tuesday, he took part in individual drills but was held out of team drills. He did some light jogging and threw passes, but said doctors and trainers are being cautious not to rush him back.
Last month, Locker said he views every season as make-or-break.
"It is probably fair to say that every year for most guys. This league is so much, 'What have you done for me lately?' If you don't have that approach going into the season, it is not going to work out the way you want it to," he said. "You are always competing for your job and I am not going to change that."
In addition to Locker, the Titans have quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Tyler Wilson. Coaches remain optimistic Locker will be able to take part in organized team activities later in May.
In the meantime, the Titans have done their homework on quarterbacks in next week's NFL draft, hosting and/or holding private workouts with Fresno State's Derek Carr, Georgia's Aaron Murray, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, among others.
They've also checked out higher-rated quarterback prospects such as Texas A&M's Johnny
Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
Whether the Titans protect themselves by drafting a potential starter next week remains to be seen. They currently have the 11th overall pick.
This much is certain: It's up to Locker to save his job with the Titans.
Reach Jim Wyatt at 615-259-8015 and on Twitter @jwyattsports.