Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe was the toast of the town this time last year. The rookie fifth round pick out of Massachusetts had just completed rookie and mini camps, and had impressed his teammates and coaches with his precise route running and sure hands.
He went on to earn a starting job for the regular season opener, and never relinquished it throughout the year.
But as the old saying goes…what a difference a year makes.
Fast forward to today and we honestly have no clue what Sharpe’s role will be this fall…for a couple of reasons.
For starters, Tennessee drafted wide receiver Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft, and we all know that players drafted that high will be pushed to start sooner rather than later.
And to add injury to insult, the same night Sharpe was accused of assaulting a man in Nashville for taunting him about the pick.
Let’s stay here for a moment…
Sharpe’s agent initially stated that he was not involved in the altercation in any way, citing the incident as a money grab.
On Friday, however, the Tennessean reported that Sharpe is now filing a countersuit against Dante R. Satterfield, claiming that he acted in self-defense.
A blatant contradiction to what his camp initially released to the press.
The investigation is ongoing and will be forwarded to the grand jury upon completion, but let’s be honest, that in itself doesn’t look good for Sharpe.
But I digress.
The Titans also added rookie receiver Taywan Taylor in the third round of this year’s draft along with veteran free agent Eric Decker, making a once-comfy position group standing room only.
The competition for the starting spot opposite Rishard Matthews is now ten times tougher than it was a year ago, and to make matters worse, Sharpe missed time this summer while dealing with a foot injury.
And by all accounts, Davis and Taylor impressed in his absence.
Sharpe should be ready for the start of training camp and should have the upper hand on his competition from a playbook standpoint, but the ongoing suit could loom over him like a continual black cloud.
And how much rope will general manager Jon Robinson give a fifth round pick if Sharpe’s legal issue becomes a team issue? We’ve all seen him jettison second round picks like they were undrafted free agents.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Sharpe to possibly run afoul of the NFL Player Conduct Policy. Last season Tennessee had few to zero options that they trusted behind Sharpe, so he continued to log heavy minutes even while hitting the rookie wall.
This year is different, this year there is competition at the position. This year the team has legitimate playoff aspirations, and can ill afford distractions.
If I were Sharpe I’d return to Nashville hell-bent on surpassing my 2016 training camp performance and let the rest take care of itself.
But I ain’t gonna lie…I’d be worried too.