Titans GM Jon Robinson on release of Vic Beasley: ‘The blame falls on me’
General manager Jon Robinson ensured something did.
It came in the form of admitting error. Vic Beasley didn’t pan out, to put it mildly, and “the blame falls on me,” Robinson said Wednesday after the Titans (5-3) announced they were releasing Beasley, who in March signed a one-year, fully guaranteed $9.5-million deal.
“I just think that not every decision that we make works out,” Robinson said ahead of the team's Week 9 game against the Chicago Bears (5-3) on Sunday (noon, CBS) at Nissan Stadium. “We spent a lot of time working with him, trying to get him going. At the end of the day, we felt it was best for us to go a different direction.
“I thought in practice he was coming along. There were practices where it was like we were turning the corner. It was a new defense, a new team and he was working to figure all of that out. When we got to the games, it’s not that the effort wasn’t there, the production wasn’t there."
Beasley, the eighth overall pick in 2015 who led the league in sacks in 2016, came to Nashville from the Atlanta Falcons with questions about his love for football.
Then he showed up 10 days late to Titans training camp due to what Robinson at the time called an unexcused absence. On Wednesday, Robinson said the 28-year-old outside linebacker's late arrival was due to a “medical thing” but he wouldn’t delve into specifics.
Then Beasley failed a physical and began the season on the non-football injury list.
He finally made his Titans debut in Week 3. Over the next five games, he had almost no impact. He registered just three total tackles and no sacks. His biggest impact in the Titans’ 31-20 loss to the Bengals on Sunday was two offsides penalties on the same drive.
“With any player, we try to do extensive due diligence and talk to different people and try to get a read on what makes the player tick,” Robinson said. “It’s really hard to get inside and see where they’re at, what their drive is.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel spent 14 seasons in the NFL as an outside linebacker. Pairing him with Beasley seemed like it could be a recipe for success, Robinson said he thought.
It didn’t work out that way.
“(We thought) a fresh start and the system that we were going to play him in, a head coach that had played the position and could teach him maybe some new tricks of the trade, that all that might manifest itself into him really blossoming in our system,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately that did not work.
“I think he had the athletic skill set to play outside linebacker in our defense. Trust me, I’ve gone back and watched some of (his) Atlanta (film) over the last few weeks. It was a guy who showed burst and he showed chase and made disruptive plays. Those just never manifested themselves here and the reason that we made the move that we made.”
When Vrabel was asked if he was disappointed on a personal level for being unable to unlock Beasley's potential, the Titans coach said, “I would say that I get personal disappointment from losing. It’s an awful feeling to lose in this league. … That’s what bothered me, was losing.”
What Robinson said about releasing Joseph, Brinkley
The Titans released two other veterans Tuesday in cornerback Johnathan Joseph and long snapper Beau Brinkley.
Joseph was signed to a one-year deal over the offseason and, in his age-36 season, had clearly lost a step. On Monday, the Titans traded for Chargers cornerback Desmond King, a 25-year-old only two years removed from an All-Pro season.
“I think with (Joseph), I’ve got a ton of respect for him and what he’s done in this league,” Robinson said. “He’s been a premium player. Played a long time. He can hang his hat on that. Got a lot to be proud of. But at the end of the day, (we) wanted to take a look at some younger guys and move forward there.”
Brinkley’s release was a bit more surprising. He had been the team’s primary long snapper since 2012, and before this season, he had been a model of consistency. But he had a poor snap in each of the past two games, and Robinson said he saw issues with Brinkley’s play even before that.
“That’s what it was,” Robinson said. “I love Beau Brinkley. He is a pro’s pro. He’s a hard worker. He’s a great teammate. I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for Beau and how he handles his craft. But it was something he had kind of gotten sideways on a little bit and we didn’t see him fixing it. So felt like we needed to make a move there.”
Brinkley had tested positive for COVID-19 in late September but was able to return before having to miss a game.
Reach Erik Bacharach at email@example.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.