Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $41 million ($140M cap limit)
Players Under Contract: 51
Pro Bowlers: 0
Unrestricted Free Agents: 22(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 2
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
While Derrick Morgan is never going to live up to his lofty draft status he has enough positives to bring back in 2015 provided that the price reflects the fact that he is not an elite pass rusher. As long as he comes in no higher than the Erik Walden $4 million a year number it’s reasonable…I would strongly consider bringing back Michael Roos to play left tackle and allow Taylor Lewan to play the right side of the line. That would represent the best lineup for the team. Roos has been one of the underappreciated players in the NFL and coming off an injury at the age of 32 he won’t cost much.
Free Agents to Let Walk
I don’t think there is any question that Jake Locker is a failure for the Titans. There should not even be 20 seconds of thought given to retaining him in 2015…Nate Washington is an interesting player to consider. He can still be productive but he is being phased more and more out of the offense. His skillset probably fits better on a veteran team rather than a younger one like Tennessee will be. That said if they bring in a veteran quarterback he is probably worth keeping.
Contracts to Modify
Andy Levitre has not lived up to his contract with the Titans and they are better off attempting to rework his contract rather than carrying $6.3 million in dead money by releasing him. While it may be wishful thinking to believe they can get some return on their investment, trying to reduce his salary by $2 million is worth the effort…Jason McCourty’s contract was a surprising one when signed and now the Titans have some leverage to ask him for a pay cut. They may be able to save around $1 million if they push the issue…Craig Stevens quickly landed on injured reserve this season and cutting his salary in half with the balance being converted to playtime incentives would be a fair compromise for both sides.
Players to Consider Releasing
Michael Griffin has the 6th highest cap number and 7th highest salary at the position and his Pro Bowl days seem like ages ago. It’s simply time to move on. They will save $4.5 million in cap by cutting him…The signing of right tackle Michael Oher was a head scratcher from day one and they can avoid sinking another $4 million into one of the worst lineman in the NFL by releasing him. They have to do it quickly though as his salary will guarantee in February….Shonn Greene was another bad signing right from the start and they can save $3.35 million in cash and cap with his release. His release should be be the easiest decision on the team.
There is probably not a team in the NFL with a worse roster than the Titans. Outside of Jurrell Casey there is no player that looks like a upper echelon player at his position. They have a few decent players like a McCourty or Delanie Walker, but the Titans need a complete infusion of talent to turn the team around. Right now they are at a stage where they just shuffle guys in and out of the lineup which gives them no continuity at all. This is a big project that likely can’t be done in one season.
The Titans seem to have a habit of avoiding high priced positions and seemingly getting cold feet fter being burned on a bigger contract, the worst of which was Chris Johnson for the team. The team too often seems to rely on over focuising an lower cost players, such as Greene and Oher, but overpaying them to ensure they get the lowest cost “talented” players out there. That strategy has led to the current state of the franchise. If they are going to enter free agency this year they need to target better talent rather than bargain talent that most teams would look at for depth and not significant roles. Cost can not be an issue.
They will be in a position to draft a quarterback, the biggest need for the team, but given the head coaches track record with young QB’s I would not consider that a good option. This would be a team that should consider trading for Jay Cutler or looking at Mark Sanchez or Sam Bradford (if released) for the position and trading down from the number 2 spot. With the cap room they have they can find a quality wide receiver and defensive lineman in free agency. They could get involved with a player to potentially rush the passer like a Brian Orakpo coming off injury but they may be better suited to drafting for pass rush rather than gambling on a second tier guy or taking an older player like Tamba Hali who could be released. If they continue on their current path of overpaying low cost talent they will be in the same draft position for many years to come.
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.