Key Additions: Michael Oher ($5M per year), Wesley Woodyard ($3.9M), Dexter McCluster ($3M), Shaun Phillips ($2.5M), Charlie Whitehurst ($2.1M), Al Woods ($2M)
Key Re-Signings: Ropati Pitoitua ($3.2M per year), Antonio Johnson ($1.2M),
Key Losses: Alterraun Verner (Buccaneers), Kenny Britt (Rams)
Major Cuts: David Stewart ($6.4M cap savings), Chris Johnson ($6M), Ryan Fitzpatrick ($3.3M),
Free Agency Thoughts:
The Titans finally made the smart decision to get Chris Johnson’s contract off the books this season. That contract was a disaster from day one and he seemed to make it known that he was not going to significantly rework the deal for the team. He really left them no options, though waiting as long as they did seemed to make them seem a bit petty.
The loss of Alterraun Verner was a head scratcher. He signed for little in Tampa Bay and the Titans secondary could have used him. Verner played very well last season so I would imagine that the decision had to do with the new coaching staff not believing he would fit in with the defense.
Likewise signing Michael Oher to a $5 million a year contract was equally surprising. Oher never really maximized the potential in Baltimore but they saw something in him that I doubt any other team saw. They will pay him $6 million this season and he has an offseason vesting guarantee in 2015, so this will likely end up a 2 year contract. His dead money in 2016 is just $2 million, but it’s hard to believe they were bidding against anyone for his services in this price range.
The signing of Shaun Phillips and Wesley Woodyard could both be good short term additions to the team. Phillips does put up sacks but has yet to really find a team to overpay for that production. The Titans gave him more than most, but it is not a contract that carries any risk. Woodyard’s contract is on the higher side of his production and history, but he should add to the defense.
Charlie Whitehurst is amazingly in his ninth season as a pro. He’s only thrown 155 total passes, his last coming in 2011. Somehow the Titans guaranteed him $2 million for that, which is more than Mark Sanchez received. Whitehurst was brought in because of his familiarity with the coach, but with Jake Lockers injury history they may have been better off keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick around.
Dexter McCluster received a nice deal from the team to return kicks and pitch in as a short target in the passing game. His $4 million guarantee is quite steep for his production level and an example of a team not really worrying about the money on what they view as a lower cost player. I dislike that line of thinking but the Titans are not the only team to do this.
Overall Grade: C
I feel as if the Titans could have done much more this offseason than they did. Maybe they did not want to overspend on higher priced players in light of some of the contracts they had signed in the past, but they have one of the lower payrolls in the NFL and had they released Chris Johnson sooner would have had the cap space to do more. I’m not sure you can point to any contract here and say they received a good deal or that they greatly improved the team. They won’t get into much trouble down the line with any of the players’ contracts, which is a positive, but that doesn’t change the fact that most are contracts that other teams would likely not even consider. I do like the fact that they finally released Johnson, which is why they get a C rather than C-, but Im not sure anyone looks at this team as any better than they were before free agency and it is unlikely any player will aid for the long term growth of the franchise.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.