We watch with anticipation every year during the football season hoping that this year will be the year for our team. We get to know the players: their names, their colleges, their attitudes, and the way they play the game. We get attached to the talent that our team puts on the field.
Then the playoffs come, the Super Bowl champion is crowned, and we get into this period of time where your team transforms into something else – the dreaded offseason. Some players retire, some holdout looking for more money, some ride free agency into a big contract, while others are held back from free agency by their team’s franchise tag.
The goal for every team is to stop any loss of talent while simultaneously bringing in extra talent. The Tennessee Titans have had a great offseason, addressing some major needs while avoiding any major drama. The question is, what will next year look like? Will it be filled with drama and headlines, or can we focus on building our team with relative quiet?
What follows is part one of a positional breakdown where we cover the Quarterbacks and the ground game outlook for the Tennessee Titans in 2013.
Tennessee Titans Quarterbacks
Jake Locker is the future of the franchise, and he is locked up until 2015. The veteran Matt Hasselbeck and long-time third-stringer Rusty Smith are under contract until the 2014 season. There should be no issues at QB next off-season for the Titans.
Tennessee Titans Running Backs
After a long, dramatic holdout last offseason that left Titans fans biting their nails, Chris Johnson signed his long-term, big-money deal. That contract secures his future as a Titan until he is 31 years old in the year 2017. The Titans also drafted a young back last year in Jamie Harper who is under contract until 2015.
Something to watch for next off-season is what to do about Chris Johnson’s primary backup – Javon Ringer. Ringer is 25 years old this year and is due to make $565,000 in the last year of his rookie contract. He no doubt would love more opportunities to prove his value on the field in 2012 but the Titans are going to want Chris Johnson to earn the $8 million they are paying him. Expect the Titans to use Ringer as they would normally in 2012 but let him walk in free agency in 2013. With Chris Johnson due to make $10 million in 2013, they just will not have room to pay another back decent money. Jamie Harper should be more than adequate to pick up Chris Johnson’s scraps. Also look for the Titans to draft another running back in next year’s mid-to-late rounds.
Tennessee Titans Fullbacks
Fullback is a position that seems to be getting phased out by many NFL teams but the Titans have two on their roster after neglecting to re-sign free agent Ahmard Hall this offseason. Quinn Johnson is a prior-service U.S. Marine, and Collin Mooney is also a military veteran who served his obligated time in the U.S. Army after a record-breaking career at West Point. Mooney is a rookie this year, so he will be raw and untested. The Titans currently have him under contract until 2015 at which point he will be a restricted free agent. Quinn Johnson has a little more NFL experience, and even started a few games for the Titans last season when Ahmard Hall served a league-imposed suspension. Johnson is set to make $615,000 this year and will be a free agent in the offseason.
I love the possibility of Mooney being able to be a contributor as he holds the Army’s single season rushing record – but I think Johnson might be the better option for 2012. If they can find room for 2 fullbacks on the final 53-man roster, expect the Titans to let Quinn Johnson play out the final year of his contract as the starter while Mooney gets up to speed.
Next year, you can expect Quinn Johnson to go unsigned while Collin Mooney becomes the Titans’ cheap answer for fullback – due a meager $480,000 in the 2nd year of his 3-year contract.
Stay tuned for part 2 next week where we take a look at the Tennessee Titans 2013 outlook focusing on their wide receivers and tight ends.