This is going to be a huge year for the former 1st round pick of the Titans, quarterback Jake Locker. Jake has had a very rocky start to his career mainly for the fact that he has been slowed down by injury after injury. Tennessee has till mid-May to decide to pick up the 5th year option from his rookie deal and pay him nearly $13 million. This decision is an easy one, but let’s take a look at how Jake has been doing.
Locker has had an up and down career to this point, but he is only coming into his 4th year in the league. Young quarterbacks NEED time to develop. People always forget this because of the Luck’s and RG3’s but that is not fair to everyone else. Locker was off to a sizzling start last year leading the Titans to a 3-1 record and had his best performance against the Chargers where the Titans won on a last minute TD from Locker to wide receiver Justin Hunter. However, in week 5 the season came to a halt when Locker injured his hip and looked like his season was going to be over, but he only missed 2 games. Shortly after he came back he had another freak injury that required surgery and for him be out the rest of the year.
Surprisingly Jake has had a better start to his career than former Titans MVP quarterback Steve McNair. They are freakishly similar in the fact that they both have cannon arms, can run, get banged up, and had dismal starts to their careers. Jake has seen an increase in quarterback rating and completion percentage in his first three seasons, which is a promising sign for the young leader. You cannot underestimate Locker’s leadership, loyalty and passion for the game. If his body can hold up he can be the face of the franchise.
The Titans should not pick up the last year option for Locker and just let this year play out. If they do not pick it up, he becomes a free agent, but they can always try to sign him again. Jake is not a guy who is going to run from the team if they offer him a deal. Like I said, this is all pending on a healthy year, but he is so loyal that I believe he thinks he owes it to the team and their fans to come back. Jake is a stand up guy and since the Titan’s have not given up on him after countless injuries, he should come back at a discount in 2015 if he has a solid year.
I might sound like I am talking out of my a**, but here is the reasons why (if healthy) Locker will be very successful in this league. Locker has one of the most talented young receiving corps in the game in Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. As a second year player, Kendall Wright pulled in 94 passes and had over 1,000 yards. That is not bad for a tiny guy and a guy who has played with many quarterbacks. Justin Hunter is a huge target and became the first NFL player to record his first two career catches as touchdowns. He has raw potential and has a huge upside. These two guys are very young and can be a dangerous combo.
The Titans have been beefing up their offensive line and that should keep Locker on his feet more. He is a very athletic quarterback and loves to run the ball. He needs to rely on his lineman more and not take so many big hits. Jake should be fine if he keep progressing like he has, and now he has a quarterback guru on his side in Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt loves the potential Jake has and thinks he can become a great quarterback in this league.
Overall, this is a huge year for the franchise with a new coaching staff and with Locker in his last year of his rookie deal. This is a make or break year for the young quarterback, and many people including myself are cheering for Locker to catch a break and have a full season behind center.