Jurrell Casey established himself as one of the best young interior defensive linemen in 2013, and now he's getting paid like it.
Set to make $1.43 million in the final year of his rookie contract, the burgeoning 24-year-old star was given a mammoth raise on Wednesday. The Tennessee Titans' official Twitter feed announced the news, while agent Drew Rosenhaus provided a photo of Casey signing his new contract:
ESPN's Adam Schefter laid out the yearly and monetary details:
Titans general manager Ruston Webster discussed his excitement in assuring a long Nashville stay for Casey, via TitansOnline.com:
"We are excited to come to an agreement on an extension with Jurrell. This is something Jurrell has earned not only with his play on the field but his work ethic as well. We appreciate Jurrell’s professionalism through this process and look forward to many good years to come."
Although Casey started 31 games in his first two seasons, his impact wasn't nearly as significant as it was in 2013.
In 15 games last year, the 6'1", 305-pound interior anchor racked up career highs in sacks (10.5), tackles (55) and passes defended (2). The sacks were second-most in the NFL among defensive tackles, helping him earn a second-team All-Pro nod.
Of course, as Pro Football Focus noted, his impact was felt far beyond the passing game:
Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar also applauded the move by Tennessee:
The Titans are in the midst of a five-season playoff drought, and they won just seven games a year ago, but the defense has steadily improved. They finished last season 17th in yards per rush allowed and 14th in total yards per game allowed, the team's best finish since 2008.
There's no question Casey's consistent interior disruption has been a major part of that.
It will be intriguing to see how Casey transitions from 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 defensive end in Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton's new system.
When it comes down to it, though, the system shouldn't matter. This guy is a playmaker, and he's going to be causing havoc in Tennessee for the foreseeable future.