The Tennessee Titans’ receiving corps is far from a flashy group that strikes fear into their opposing defensive coordinator, but they are a young group that has the potential to grow into one of those elite squads if they all stay with the Titans.
Watching this offseason unfold, fans have seen big-play wide receivers like Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham, and Pierre Garcon switch teams. We have seen Randy Moss and Antonio Bryant come out of retirement searching for relevance once again. And now that training camps are opening up, we are seeing disgruntled receivers not reporting to camps such as Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace over contract disputes.
An analysis of the Tennessee Titans and their receiving threats in 2013 should have fans breathing a sigh of relief.
Tennessee Titans Wide Receivers
Kendall Wright is a wild card. A rookie out of Baylor that the Titans drafted in the first round, he is still not under contract. He is full of potential, but we have yet to see him play a down in the NFL. Inevitably he will sign a deal at some point, and it will be a four-year contract. The Titans will have him locked up until 2016.
3 years left…
Lavelle Hawkins is currently sitting at fifth on the depth chart for Titans receivers, and he is also under contract for three more years. He is the second-highest paid wide receiver on the Titans.
Hawkins has shown flashes of capability, but not greatness. He easily makes the roster this year at $800,000, but the Titans need to see more production if they are going to pay him the $1.9 million he is due in 2013.
2 years left…
Kenny Britt plays hard on the field but unfortunately plays harder off the field. He has been arrested 8 times in his short time in the NFL and is almost surely headed for a lengthy suspension in 2012. Some Titans fans are ready to turn the page on Kenny, but head coach Mike Munchak has said publicly that they will not release Britt regardless of a suspension.
Britt doesn’t demand big money at $755,000 this year, and $1,347,000 in 2013. He will surely be a Titan until his current contract expires. However, without some serious growing up – the Titans will watch Britt walk away in free agency in 2014.
Damian Williams is a bargain at the low prices of $540,000 for 2012 and $575,000 for 2013.
Williams was pressed into duty in 2011 after the injury to Kenny Britt and he responded with 45 receptions for 592 yards and 5 touchdowns. If you aren’t a stat-junkie, those numbers are comparative to guys like Robert Meachem, Plaxico Burress, and James Jones of the Packers.
The Titans have 2 years left at a bargain and then they will have to decide if he is worth bigger money in an extension.
Marc Mariani is an interesting case. He costs the same amount as Damian Williams, but he comes in sixth on the wide receiver depth chart. This is a guy that has not made a huge impact in the passing game, but he holds the Titans franchise record for single-season return yardage.
I think the Titans will find a way to keep Mariani on the roster for such a small price. He is safe through 2013, but he is the 3rd Titans WR that will need a new contract or a new home in 2014.
Tennessee Titans Tight Ends
4 years left…
Craig Stevens is a beast of a blocker, but temper your expectations for his usage in the passing game. He is an old-school tight end that is primarily used as a blocker. He was given a four-year, $15 million extension in January and the Titans are going to utilize him to open up the running game and protect the quarterback. He’s not going anywhere soon.
Taylor Thompson is a guy to watch. The Titans traded up in the fifth round this year to get him and he has no college tape as a tight end. He played for June Jones at SMU who runs a no tight end system. Thompson played defensive end his entire college career.
He is big, fast, and has great pass-catching ability. I wouldn’t look for much this year, but Titans fans should be happy to have such an elite athlete for four more years at the tight end position.
Jared Cook stands the lone Titans’ receiving threat in their contract year. This last year of his rookie deal is only worth $615,000 compared to the tight end franchise number of $5.4 million.
The Titans have plenty of cap space in 2012, so it would not be a surprise if they work out an extension this year. However, as it stands, Cookie will be a free agent in 2013. With teams following the Patriots lead on utilizing 2 pass-catching tight ends in select formations, the Titans will not stand by and watch Cook walk away. The game plan is to have specific formations where Cook and Thompson are running complementary routes which could cause major problems for opposing defenses. If an extension is not worked out sometime this year, the Titans will likely use their franchise tag on Jared Cook.
As you can see there is a bright future ahead for our Tennessee Titans. They have many young receiving threats and it looks like they’ll hold all the cards going into the 2013 offseason. I expect a good 2012 but an even better 2013 season from the Titans. Imagine all of this receiving talent with one more year to work with young gun Jake Locker.
You cannot over-value the chemistry and rhythm that will be gained in the next year. With many teams in transition, it’s nice to see the Titans receivers are here to stay.
God bless and Go Titans