Football is finally on the horizon and following a crazy few days of scrambling around for players, the 2011 Titans roster is beginning to take shape with just two weeks until the opening exhibition game against Minnesota.
With the free agency market squeezed into such a short space of time, the speed at which deals have been done has been incredible. The Titans can be quite happy with how things have gone, with an exciting addition at quarterback, offset by some big losses on the defensive side of the football.
The deal to bring Matt Hasselbeck to Tennessee from Seattle is a sensible one. Whilst it is abundantly clear that the franchise see Locker as the future at QB, the reality is that it would be a huge risk to throw him in at the deep end at the start of his career. A difficult first season could well jeopardise his future, as his confidence could be irreperably dmaged, so to give him at least a year to learn his trade behind a veteran QB makes perfect sense.
Hasselbeck himself has plenty to offer, as he showed against New Orleans in the playoffs last season. There is always the worry that he may see this as one last pay-day, but the chance to start and mentor Locker is a big challenge and should be one that the 13 year veteran is up to. He has already worked briefly with Locker at the University of Washington, as the two kept in shape during the lockout.
The biggest worry on offense is seeing Chris Johnson holding out for more money. The All-Pro running back did the same last year and earned a bump in salary. As the focal point of the Titans offense, it is imperative that a deal is done, and once both parties actually sit down and discuss the deal; in all probability it will be done. However Johnson is the only player not to return to camp, and the Titans have said they won’t discuss a deal until he returns. With room to manoeuvre on the salary cap, there is no danger of the Titans front office not stumping up the cash. The thought of an offence without CJ2K should see to that.
The offensive line is certainly not one where I can claim to have any great knowledge; however it appears clear from the depth chart that there is a worrying lack of cover in the guard positions. I’m sure that Coach Munchak, who had an all-pro career in the position, has some cards up his sleeve to strengthen that area.
The defensive side of the football has seen two big name departures with the loss of Jason Babin to Philadelphia and Stephen Tulloch to Detroit. Coach Munchak has been quick to replace both men with Shaun Smith coming in from Kansas City to replace Babin and Barret Ruud leaving Tampa Bay to replace Tulloch.
The linebacking crew is also bolstered by draft picks Akeem Ayers and Jurrell Casey. The secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the league if Cortland Finnegan can regain his from of 2009 and Alteraun Verner has a second season of the same quality as his rookie season.
Special Teams are solid. Rob Bironas still has one of the best legs in the league but it will be interesting to see if the new kick-off rules spike the talent of Pro Bowler Marc Mariani.
The training camp will see the new men allowed to join in practice this week as things will ramp up in the final two weeks before the 2011 Titans finally take to the field. It can’t come quickly enough.