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Tennessee Titans 2013 Offseason Needs and Salary Cap Cuts

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Mike Munchak era has been less than desired for the most part during his first two seasons with the Tennessee Titans franchise. That is why it is absolutely crucial that they get it right with some solid offseason moves to fill needs and salary cap cuts to clear up finances. While I may not be a professional these are my thoughts on what the team can do to help get moving back in the right direction.

Quarterback

Tennessee Titans Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck

They used a 1st round pick on the kid and made it clear this last season that Jake Locker is the man they believe is the future at the quarterback position. This is gonna be his third season in the league and looking around the NFL seeing all of these young quarterbacks having success he is gonna be expected to show some results.

I believe that the Tennessee Titans need to release backup Matt Hasselbeck and clear up $5.5 million in salary cap space in the process. Jake Locker may not be the guy but we know that Matt Hasselbeck at his age is at best a stop-gap. Why not go ahead and use that space to get Locker more help and get a younger guy in to be getting ready at the same time?

Running Back

I believe that this is a one of the tricky spots for the Tennessee Titans to address in the 2013 offseason. The reason for that is because Chris Johnson has been so inconsistent since getting his big contract. His production at times has been at a high level but overall it has been nowhere near good enough to warrant the $10 million he is scheduled to make this upcoming year.

Now where this becomes tricky is the running backs on the roster behind Chris Johnson. They have Darius Reynaud but he essentially made the team only as a return specialist and who knows if he will be back with Marc Mariani returning from injury. Javon Ringer showed some promise but he didn't play this last season and is a free agent. That leaves Jamie Harper who is essentially a fullback that can play the running back position.

I'm not saying that they need to go out and find a starter at the position. But I do think that they need to look at adding either an experienced backup or picking up a decent one that could be a steal in the NFL draft. They have decisions to make regardless with Javon Ringer, Quinn Johnson and Darius Reynaud all as free agents.

Wide Receiver

This might be the only position that the Tennessee Titans go into next year without making numerous offseason moves or salary cap cuts. Nate Washington gives them a solid veteran who is pretty versatile in his abilities. Kenny Britt has one more year on his contract before they have to decide whether he is worth the trouble of keeping on the team. They used a 1st round pick on Kendall Wright last year and he showed a great amount of promise as a rookie. Then they also have Damian Williams with one more year on his deal and he showed some upside in 2012 as well.

If you can look above and do the math that adds up to 4 guys in solid footing on the team. They also have Marc Mariani coming back from injury and he provides high level special teams play and they were planning on using him more in the slot in 2012 before he got put on the injured reserve. So that means that Lavelle Hawkins will likely be the odd man out after this offseason. He is scheduled to make nearly $2 million in 2013 and considering that he will be at best the 5th wide receiver this nearly has to be a salary cap cut.

Tight End

The Tennessee Titans coaching staff needs to sit down this offseason and figure out what direction they are going with the offense before they address this position in 2013. I say that because there seemingly was so much confusion about playing time and looks in the passing game in 2012.

The big question mark is Jared Cook and how bad the franchise wants to keep him on the roster. He is a free agent and is seen as one of the top young prospects at the position in the entire league. The issue is that he stated openly that he isn't happy with the direction of the team and might leave in free agency. The Tennessee Titans can use the franchise tag on him but that would mean paying him a hefty $5.9 million salary in 2013.

What is the big deal with using the franchise tag on Jared Cook? How reasonable is it to pay a guy nearly $6 million when he was on the field for less than half of the offensive plays in 2012. That salary only makes sense if they play on increasing his playing time and looks in the passing game this upcoming year.

Now here is where the situation gets funny in my opinion. Because if they do as mentioned above and seemingly indicate their intentions for Jared Cook the Tennessee Titans front office moves from the 2012 offseason make little sense. I say that because they will then have Craig Stevens making $2.5 million as the backup tight end. But then they also have Taylor Thompson whom they took in the draft.

I think it really puts them in a bad spot. Because if they do resign Jared Cook it puts them at having too much invested at tight end. If they don't resign the young prospect then it significantly downgrades the position and will upset fans that already think the owner is cheap.

Offensive Line

Tennessee Titans Center Eugene Amano

Alright now this is the position that is crucial for the Tennessee Titans 2013 offseason in terms of needs and making moves. The personel they had in 2012 were just absolutely terrible and between poor performance and injuries it submarined the entire offense. Nearly everybody involved at the top of the franchise from management down to the coaching staff have said that the offensive line will be the priority in free agency and the NFL draft.

The good news is that Michael Roos and David Stewart are both rated up near the top of the league for offensive tackles. The bad news is that the entire interior offensive line will likely need to be replaced before the 2013 NFL season. A combination of injuries and lack of depth ruined the offense so they will be looking to add more depth and get younger across the entire line.

Expect several salary cap causilties at the position as free agency comes closer to teams across the league. Leroy Harris is a free agent and likely will not be resigned unless it is at a discounted price. I fully believe that Steve Hutchinson and Eugene Amano will both be released for multiple reasons.

Steve Hutchinson will be 36 years old this season and clearly showed he has lost a step in his later days. You combine that with his $4.75 million salary and it is an almost certainty he will be gone.

As for Eugene Amano he was looking at possibly being a salary cap cut last offseason before getting injured and put on injured reserve. Now he will likely be cut due to his $3.865 million salary and low performance at center.

Look for the Tennessee Titans to use several early picks in the NFL draft on offensive linemen. That could get tricky because with them drafting at the 10 spot that kind leaves them in no man's land for offensive linemen. Because it is considered too early to pick an interior linemen and they really don't need any help at the tackle positions.

Defensive Line

The production from the defensive line in 2012 may have been deceptive according to stats from Pro Football Focus. They showed that defensive ends Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan were both top 10 in the league in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback. They also showed that rookie defensive tackle Mike Martin was one of the best in the league at making stops on running downs.

With that said the Titans could use another big defensive tackle in the middle to help on running downs but also take pressure off of those defensive ends. It could very well be a position that they address in the NFL draft with several guys at that position slated to go in the range of their 1st round selection. In my personal opinion if they like a guy there at that position it would make sense as a big time defensive tackle would benefit every other player on the defensive line and at the linebacker position.

Linebacker

What started off seen as one of the weakest positions on the roster ended up being one of the few bright spots. At least this is one area where the Tennessee Titans are seemingly set going into the 2013 offseason. They should have to make a few minimal moves and perhaps no cuts.

They went into the 2012 season with big question marks in players such as Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown. Well those question marks were somewhat erased as Akeem Ayers had success rushing the quarterback and Zach Brown made an impact both rushing the quarterback and getting interceptions in the passing game.

One question mark that they might have going into the 2013 season is Colin McCarthy. Many people like him at the middle linebacker position but he was subpar last year with some poor numbers in terms of missed tackles and rating in the passing game. The fact that he has often been injured also has some people believing he may not be right to play on the inside of the defense. He will get the chance to disprove those ideas in 2013.

Cornerback

The cornerback position is one that I don't feel too good about for the Tennessee Titans going into the 2013 offseason. With that said I don't expect them to make many moves or salary cap cuts. They seem to like what they have in terms of the starters. I just feel that with this modern day NFL going towards the passing game they just don't quite have enough talent at cornerback.

They signed Jason McCourty to a long-term deal in 2012 to lock him up for the future. He is solid at the position but really isn't seen as a number one corner by some people in the league. Many people feel that Alterraun Verner is a solid young prospect and is getting better and better as the opposite starter at cornerback.

The issue here is that the Titans have very little depth at the cornerback position. You can't do that in the modern NFL where so many teams are lining up with 3 or 4 wide receivers on so many plays. Your third cornerback needs to be every bit as good as your starters in order to keep up with these high power passing offenses. I say that because if you are running thin at the position then you are only an injury away from teams being able to lineup with 3 or 4 wide receivers and having you at a huge disadvantage.

Just look around the league at teams like the Green Bay Packers or New England Patriots where they each have 4 or 5 dangerous options in the passing game. Now look at the Titans depth in the secondary and ask yourself if they can realistically expect to cover those guys. Alright now imagine if they have to play those teams with somebody like Jason McCourty or Alterraun Verner out with an injury. There would be mismatches across the board.

They need to add at least a veteran to the cornerback position in the 2013 offseason through free agency. It doesn't have to be somebody with starter ability just somebody who can come in and hold it down when called upon.

Safety

The Tennessee Titans were terrible at the safety position in 2012.With this upcoming offseason it is something that is gonna have to be addressed in free agency and the 2013 NFL draft. I fully expect them to sign a mid-level talent in free agency and then also add somebody in the middle rounds of the draft.

Michael Griffin got a long-term deal last year and then turned around and had his worst career since coming into the league. You may credit that to them changing him around from free safety to strong safety. But all the same the numbers show that he consistently got burned in the passing game and missed a fairly significant amount of tackles.

They had little to show for the safety position opposite of Michael Griffin. But here recently the Titans coaching staff have said that they would like to see what they have in Al Afalava and Markelle Martin in 2013. It is a scary thought that they could possibly go into the next season with such unknowns at a position where they were so terrible in 2012. However they did also say that they like the depth in the safety position for the upcoming NFL draft. So I think that they will be selecting one somewhere come April.

Special Teams

This is one of the areas where the Tennessee Titans have always been consistently near the top of the league. However in one of the most disappointing 2013 offseason moves the franchise decided to part ways with special teams coach Alan Lowry. That is one that has drawn many eyebrows around the league. So they might need to be extra careful with how they proceed at these positions.

Rob Bironas has been a solid kicker for the Titans for the better part of the last decade. As a matter of fact he has been one of the best in the league both in terms of accuracy and kicking power. He had some issues in 2012 that hurt his performance but many people feel those can be chalked up to injuries. All the same he is a free agent and the team will have to decide if they want to pay $2.5-3 million for a kicker on this roster.

At punter they have Brett Kern who is one of the best young prospects in the league. He will be the guy despite some issues towards the end of the season because aside from those mishaps he had an incredible year. Not only that but his contract is extremely favorable for the franchise with him making $1 million for the next couple seasons.

Conclusion

At the end of the day the Tennessee Titans are gonna have some roster decisions to make in the 2013 offseason in terms of moves and salary cap cuts. The front office has their work cut out for them coming off of a poor 2012 season and with only around $19-20 million in cap space to fill so many needs on the roster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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