What to do? This will be the most uttered sentence among Titans brass whenever the players and owners are able to end their spat and get back to the business of football. What to do to fill what will end up being numerous holes on what was a very bad defense from last season. Several starters are either impending free agents or entering the final year of their current contracts, something sure to keep Mike Reinfeldt burning the midnight oil.
There are not as many questions to fill offensively so let’s address those first. The offensive line was a problem last year. It was not as good as we were told it would be. Starting guard Leroy Harris is an unrestricted free agent and honestly, even though they will, I’m not sure the Titans should bring him back. There are better options in free agency such as Harvey Dahl of the Atlanta Falcons and Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans will be forced to spend money given they are already under the cap and will be forced to spend at least 89% of the salary cap under the terms of the new CBA in order to reach the salary floor.
It may be an itchy trigger finger given the teams recent history with problem child players like Pacman Jones, but the Titans need to trade Kenny Britt. With a new coaching staff in place they need to make a statement that behavior patterns like the Britt’s will not be tolerated. He may be an exceptional young talent, but that is all the more reason to unload him now before he loses all value after another run in with the law.
Defensively the Titans have holes at every level. Each position group had problems in 2010 and it will take more than one player to get this defense back where it wants to be. At defensive tackle the Titans drafted Jurrell Casey in an effort to get bigger in the middle. I think adding a veteran like Tommy Harris former pro bowler with the Bears could add much needed depth and additional bulk to the Titans interior.
Jason Jones needs a position switch in 2011. An undersized defensive tackle, Jones would benefit from moving outside to end where he would help the Titans control the run better with his size and could shift back to tackle to rush the passer on obvious passing downs. Jacob Ford and Jason Babin are two defensive ends I do not expect to be back in 2011. They are both rush specialists who were tailor made for a scheme the Titans no longer run.
Chris Hope is done at safety. The Titans need to find someone who can play the “in the box” strong safety position and Hope isn’t it. There are options in free agency like Tom Zbikowski of the Ravens, but the Titans may have to stick it out and pin their future at safety on next years draft. Unfortunately safety isn’t the only hole in the secondary. This team does not employ a number one corner. Cortland Finnegan is a good player don’t get me wrong but he gets beat like a drum when he has to cover the games elite receivers. This is a need that may also have to wait until next years draft.
Linebacker was the biggest disappointment for the Titans in 2010. Stephen Tulloch is a tackling machine in open space but there wasn’t much room for him to run with the lack of size up front for the Titans. Combined with Tullochs lack of size this made a recipe for disaster. Tulloch is an unrestricted free agent and I do not expect or think the Titans need to bring him back. McGrath has not performed to the level the Titans anticipated and neither has last years free agent signing Will Witherspoon. The Titans addressed part of the problem when they drafted Akeem Ayers in the second round and Colin McCarthy in the fourth round of this years draft. Both players have potential to be good down the road, but the Titans need help now as they clean house in their linebacking corps.
It should be an exciting couple of days when the new CBA gets into place and the league opens for business. One thing is for sure, with teams required to spend money in free agency more than they have in the past, this will not be the same old Titans. Get your popcorn ready folks, you’re gonna see some fireworks.