The Tennessee Titans care much more about protection than punctuality in negotiating a contract with their top draft pick, Adam "Pacman" Jones.
General Manager Floyd Reese prides himself on getting his top draft picks under contract and on to the field for the first practice of training camp. His lone exception since the franchise relocated to Tennessee was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in 2002, a five-day holdout.
But with Jones's arrest on July 13 on a felony vandalism charge and two misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a nightclub fight, the Titans want to make sure the first defensive player taken in April's NFL Draft is able to earn what they pay him.
"I don't think there's anybody in any business, certainly not in the football world, that wouldn't think we need to protect ourselves some way some how," Reese said.
"I think whether they will admit it or not, I think they have to understand that. And I think that will probably make it unique at the minimum, make it a little bit longer, maybe a little bit harder. But it's something we have to do."
Jones's agent, Michael Huyghue, did not return a message left by the Associated Press.
The Titans open training camp on Friday. Reese still hopes to sign Jones by then, but he also expects Jones's agent to use the threat of a holdout to counter the Titans' demands.
* SAINTS: Linebacker Derrick Rodgers was released by the team yesterday.
Rodgers missed the final eight games last season because of a back injury. The eight-year veteran had surgery in February to repair a bulging disc in his back and was not healthy enough to compete in offseason practice sessions.
Rodgers, 33, came to the Saints in a 2003 trade with the Miami Dolphins for a seventh-round draft pick. He had two years remaining on his contract, with a scheduled base salary of $1.1 million this season and $1.2 million in 2006.
Rodgers started all 23 games he played with the Saints, recording a career-high 97 tackles in 2003 and 71 tackles last season.
* PANTHERS: Carolina agreed to terms with offensive lineman Evan Mathis, one of their two third-round draft picks.
The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Mathis is expected to compete for a starting job at right guard with Tutan Reyes. Mathis agreed to a three-year contract and will sign tomorrow, according to his agent, Kirk Wood.