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Are the Tennessee Titans preparing for life without Bo Scaife?

Prior to the beginning of unrestricted free agency, the Tennessee Titans made signing TE Bo Scaife one of their top priorities. However, to Bo’s dismay, instead of coming up with a long-term deal, the team decided to slap him with an UFA’s worst nightmare: the ever-popular franchise tag.

A few weeks ago, unlike the majority of his teammates, Bo decided to pass on attending voluntary workouts in his protest about receiving the tag and the inability of the Titans to show him the long-term money.

In an interesting development, the Titans are hosting TE Shawn Nelson for a pre-draft visit. The 6’5″ 240 lb receiving threat is rated as the draft’s second-best TE, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Titans would be interested in Nelson shortly after Scaife decided to voice his long-term contract demands.

Could Nelson be Scaife’s future replacement?

Titans’ fans are well aware of the cat and mouse game that takes place when a player is franchised. Recently-departed Albert Haynesworth was extended the franchise tag by the Titans despite #92’s desire to attain the gargantuan deal that was eventually awaiting him in unrestricted free agency.

However, Mike Reinfeldt is no idiot, so he devised a contigency plan that consisted of providing Haynesworth with a player-friendly incentive-laden one-year deal that easily allowed Albert to avoid being tagged again.

Meanwhile, Reinfeldt also shrewdly drafted DT Jason Jones in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, which provided the team with a possible future replacement in case of Haynesworth’s inevitable departure.

Let’s fast-forward to 2009. Instead of Albert, it’s Scaife who is unhappy about receiving the franchise tag. Substitute Shawn Nelson for Jason Jones and you have another potential situation where the team is possibly preparing to replace a starter in the not-so-distant future.

Nelson isn’t known for his blocking skills, so last year’s 3rd round pick Craig Stevens probably still has the inside track as the team’s future blocking TE. Nelson is a tall/agile target who is adept at catching the football and with Mike Heimerdinger’s penchant for utilizing double-TE sets, a future tandem of Stevens/Nelson doesn’t look too bad on paper.

Of course, this conversation could become mute if the Titans and Scaife consummate a long-term deal before the July 15th deadline. However, if Nelson or another talented TE such as Jared Cook is drafted by the Titans, that could be an ominous sign for Scaife’s future in Nashville.

So what do you guys think? Will Bo Scaife remain a Titan beyond 2009?