by Paul "Closer" Wanecski
If you want to see a team that can basically not trade a single player due to poor Salary Cap Management, you need go no further than the Tennessee Titans. Deemed as “Bills South”, Tennessee has been picking up the pieces of Bills-past for the last several years (George Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Andy Levitre just to name a few of the recent transplants). Reviewing the players currently under contract, the Titans find themselves with a lot of Salary Cap space going into 2015 and an equal space in adequate talent.
It isn’t too bad in Tennessee. They were able to lock down several offensive linemen in the last two off seasons via the NFL draft, snagging Chance Warmack and Taylor Lewan in the first round the last two years. While it is impossible to say these two will turn into cornerstones for the franchise, they haven’t been shy about addressing that need with valuable picks. They also selected Avery Williamson last year in the 5th round who went on to finish 3rd on the team with 107 tackles. These selections just move the emphasis to the continued search for a Quarterback, Pass Rusher, Cornerback, and to stabilize the running game. While the Titans invested a 2nd round pick Bishop Sankey, his season was dragged down with poor offensive line play and a carousel at the Quarterback position. The team actually had Bishop Sankey, Shonne Green, Dexter McCluster, Leon Washington, and Jackie Battle all combine for 1158 yards for an average of 3.8 yards per carry and 5 TDs. This needs desperate improvement.
While Salary Cap space is not a priority for Tennessee, it is important to address the contracts of players who are failing to meet expectations. This comes down to Andy Levitre, Kameron Wimbley, Shonne Green, and Jason McCourty. All of these players, while having filled a need, are not currently worth the contracts they are currently under.
Ryan Succop is among the only players that have earned the right to return. While not spectacular, he was solid enough to warrant a 2 or 3 year offer.
Selecting a Quarterback with the 178th selection is not a place you typically troll for a franchise player however that is where Zach Mettenberger was taken. Character concerns were paramount in his slide down the draft board, coupled with what some would call a “Solar Eclipse Release”, which means it takes him about one to two years to release the football. While Mettenberger played adequately, he isn’t the horse you want to hitch your wagon to. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Tennessee trade this pick to Philadelphia if Marcus Mariota falls out of the top spot, as the Titans need for a Pass Rusher, Cornerback may trump the opportunity to add Mariota. The only player that carries any real trade value is Tight End Craig Stevens who only has 1 year remaining on his contract. He is viewed as an under-utilized assets lost in the quarterback shuffle. The depth at that position in this upcoming draft is a hurdle as he would not be easily replaced.
With nearly $41 million dollars (and growing) in Salary Cap Space, the Titans can afford to be very aggressive in the next two seasons. Players such as Andy Levitre and Michael Griffin are set to have pretty stable cap numbers, so at this point no player will have a spike in that figure over the life of any contract that is currently on the roster. Tennessee will target another guard and tackle, after the release of former Baltimore Raven Michael Oher.
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