Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk announced that the team will be honoring two of its former greats, Steve McNair and Eddie George, with a jersey retirement ceremony that will take place during the team’s home opener on Sept. 15 against the Indianapolis Colts. McNair and George become just the seventh and eighth players to have their jerseys retired by the franchise, joining former Titans legends including Jim Norton and Warren Moon.
“I couldn’t imagine a day having my jersey retired by itself it’s totally appropriate having it retired together,” George said at the press conference.
George was the No. 14 overall pick by the Houston Oilers in 1996, moving to Tennessee along with the franchise the following season. George played eight seasons with the team, finishing as the Titans’ all-time leading rusher with just over 10,000 yards and 64 touchdowns on 2,733 carries. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1995 at Ohio State, George was named to four Pro Bowls in the NFL while also making the All Pro First-Team in 2000.
George, who wore No. 27 as a member of the Buckeyes as well, also has his jersey retired at Ohio State, one of just seven players to have their number retired by OSU. The school has since stopped the practice of retiring jersey numbers.
“Thomas has more catches through his first three seasons than any player in NFL history and that’s made him an essential piece of the puzzle for the Saints. That means keeping him around will come at a high cost, but it’s one the Saints appear to be more than willing to pay.”
Michael Thomas has quickly made a name for himself in the NFL. As the Saints No. 1 wide receiver, the fourth-year wide receiver is heading into the final year of his rookie contract with the New Orleans Saints. Thomas has recently said that he is not all too worried about the timeline surrounding a new contract, and while it will ultimately be decided by general manager Mickey Loomis, Saints head coach Sean Payton feels that an extension to Thomas will be the front office’s next order of business.
“He’s been very consistent and he’ll be the next one I am sure,” Payton said at press conference on Tuesday. “Mickey will be working. I know that they probably have already begun discussions. I leave that to those guys to handle. He competes, he is durable, and he is someone that enjoys playing.”
Thomas never had a huge chance to shine in Ohio State’s run-heavy offense led by Ezekiel Elliott, however he was always incredibly consistent and had more than his fair share of highlight plays — most memorably the trick-play touchdown before halftime of the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. However, since taking the next step to the NFL, Thomas has elevated his game. He has put up 1,000-yard seasons in each of his first three years in the NFL, totaling 3,787 yards and 23 touchdowns. 2018 was his best season yet, as he hauled in 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and nine TDs — the most receptions in the NFL and fifth-most all-time by a wide receiver.
It would not be shocking to see Thomas get paid, and paid incredibly well, way before any team has a chance to snatch him up in free agency next season.
“Former first-round pick Darron Lee was traded to the Chiefs this offseason after three shaky seasons with the Jets. Lee needed a change of scenery, and the Chiefs needed more athleticism at linebacker.”
Darron Lee was one of the men in the middle of the same team Michael Thomas played on at Ohio State that went on to win a National Championship in 2014. Unlike Thomas, however, Lee has had a tougher transition to the NFL game. As a bit of a tweener, Lee’s style of play is somewhere in between a linebacker and a defensive back, which helped him excel in the college game but is a harder situation in the pros.
Lee played three seasons with the New York Jets before being moved to Kansas City this offseason. In 40 games over that span, Lee has combined for 238 tackles and four sacks, with 11 passes defensed and three interceptions — all coming last season — with one defensive TD. Lee has struggled in the run game, but has been phenomenal in pass coverage. Of 54 qualifying linebackers, Lee ranked third-best in coverage, allowing just 4.15 yards per attempt in 2018, while also allowing a passer rating of just 31.6.
The move to the Chiefs should be a welcomed addition for both sides. With Kansas City’s high-powered offense, opposing teams will be playing plenty of catch-up, allowing for increased pass coverage opportunities for Lee in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. Lee will also be a good system fit for Spagnuolo, who runs a match-heavy scheme with zone coverage often morphing into man coverage with some exotic blitzed mixed in. Look for Lee to be one of a few guys to really turn it around in their fourth year in the NFL.