Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, expounds upon the current situation between the team and left tackle Taylor Lewan as he holds out of mandatory mini-camp.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans will be without starting left tackle Taylor Lewan as the team begins mandatory mini-camp Tuesday.
“As we start the mandatory veteran mini-camp, we were informed by the representatives for Taylor Lewan that we would not be attending the camp,” team general manager Jon Robinson said in an official statement. “We have had several constructive conversations over the last 5-6 weeks about his contract status. He is currently under contract and we are working to keep Taylor as part of this organization for a long time.”
Tennessee’s mini-camp runs from Tuesday, June 12 to Thursday, June 14 before the league essentially breaks for summer vacation time prior to training camp.
Lewan, selected by the Titans out of Michigan 11th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, is currently playing the 2018 season on his fifth-year option: a way for clubs to extend a first-round pick’s rookie deal to give the player and the team more time to hash out a long-term extension. Under this fifth-year stipulation, Lewan’s base salary is set at $9.341 million.
“I understand that this is a business, and so if something gets done here that’s great,” Lewan said, following Day 5 of the team’s voluntary organized team activities (OTAs). “But if not, I understand and that’s how it is. That’s how this game works, so whatever happens, happens.
“If something gets done and both parties are happy, then I think something will get done. If not, then it’s a business. I can’t sit here and say what the future’s going to be. But as of right now, I’m playing on my fifth-year option and I’m going to do my best to make sure that this team is as successful as possible this year, and hopefully continue for this offensive line to take steps forward and try to be the best left tackle I can be.”
The highest paid left tackle in the NFL is currently Nate Solder, signed by the New York Giants in free agency this year. Big Blue inked the former New England Patriot to a four-year, $62 million deal, with $34.8 million guaranteed.
Solder’s deal is the benchmark for Lewan, a two-time Pro Bowler.
Very little differs between OTAs and mini-camp, other than the “mandatory” distinction that accompanies the latter. One key dissimilarity, though, is that players under contract (like Lewan) who miss the three-day, mandatory mini-camp are subject to fines totaling $84,435; $14,070 for the first day’s absence, $28,150 for the second day, and $42,215 for the third day.
“Well, we all have a contract,” said coach Mike Vrabel when asked if he empathized with Lewan’s situation. “I understand that, we all here, everybody in this building has a contract. I understand that there sometimes becomes issues with those. I think that they’re best handled internally and that’s where we’ll go.”
Lewan, it should be noted, remained in Nashville despite holding out of Tennessee’s mini-camp. A few miles South of the Titans practice facility, the star left tackle spent his day with Jr. Commodore Campers at Vanderbilt University.
— Derek Mason (@CoachDerekMason) June 12, 2018
Lewan joins David Johnson, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, Earl Thomas, Julio Jones and Le’Veon Bell as other star players around the NFL opting to forego their respective teams’ mandatory practices this offseason with the aim of signing new contract extensions.