EDITOR NOTE: This is a Guest Spot contribution from Matt Ward. Matt is a father of 2, pastors a church in Cleveland, TN, and serves the Army National Guard as a chaplain. He loves to talk all things Tennessee Titans on Twitter. You can follow him @titanchaps”
With the 2013 regular season in the rear-view mirror and the Super Bowl quickly approaching, NFL teams will begin to strategize about their offseason moves. Good moves might help a team get to the promise land, while bad moves might hurt a team for years to come. With a look at the Tennessee Titans, here are three positions that might need some fine-tuning:
Out with the old – Chris Johnson
Johnson has produced admirably for the Titans for most of his tenure, but it’s time to move in different directions. Johnson hardly let the season end before he started voicing complaints about usage and playing time, and the Titans are vastly overpaying for his services. The top free agent RBs in 2013 signed contracts to the tune of $4 million a year, so paying $10 million to CJ this year isn’t going to work. They will take a $6 million cap hit, but they will save $4 million by cutting him.
In with the new – Knowshon Moreno
Moreno has played well for the Broncos this year, but they already have the heir apparent in Montee Ball. Add to that their starting QB is one of the few $100-million men in the NFL, the Broncos will be looking to save cap space where they can.
Moreno has struggled to stay healthy but proved durable enough when the Broncos needed him most this year. He is good in pass protection and has been a very good receiver out of the backfield. Pairing him with Shonn Greene would give the Titans a fine back-field moving forward. I would hope to see him signed for a contract similar to Steven Jackson (3 years, $12 million) or Reggie Bush (4 years, $16 million) from last year.
Out with the old – Kamerion Wimbley
By all accounts, Wimbley is a great person. Unfortunately for the Titans, he has not lived up to expectations on the football field. The hope was that signing him would create a vicious pair between he and Derrick Morgan, but the Titans continue to rank very low in QB pressure. Wimbley’s cap number for 2014 is $7.8 million which is far too high for his production.
The Titans must continue the roster churn and make this cut. This move would also free up $2.4 million in cap space.
In with the new – Arthur Jones
With the coaching additions of Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton, expect a defense that will resemble their old stomping grounds. The Arizona Cardinals ran a hybrid defense based on 3-4 principles.
After cutting Wimbley, the Titans should take a serious look at signing ArthurJones. He is the brother of UFC fighter Jon “Bones” Jones as well as Chandler Jones of the New England Patriots. He has played very well for the Baltimore Ravens ever since winning the starting job in the latter part of 2012. He is a 3-4 DE that can bring scheme experience as well as Super Bowl experience to the revamped Titans. In 2013, free agent DEs were signing contracts ranging from $3-$6.5 million per year, and I’d say Jones will draw every bit of $5 million per year from whoever signs him.
Try to maintain the old – Bernard Pollard and Alterraun Verner
If you notice the lead-in to this one is “Try to maintain” because the Titans should make every effort to retain the services of Pollard and Verner. Both played well this year for reasonable salaries. Pollard played a one-year, $2 million “prove-it” contract after being released by the Ravens. He proved he was worth every penny. The Titans should make Pollard an offer for 2 years at a reasonable rate. He is 29 years old and won’t be able to play forever with his style of violence.
Verner just finished up his rookie contract, and he will be looking for a big pay day. The 2013 class of free agent CBs were worth about $5-6 million per year, so it would be nice to see the Titans make him an offer in the 3 year, $18 million range.
Take a look at the new – Major Wright and Charles Tillman
If the Titans aren’t able to retain Pollard and/or Verner, they should look to a duo of Bears free agents. Major Wright has been the starting strong safety in Chicago for 3 years, and he has improved steadily every year. If Pollard decides to go on to greener pastures, Wright would be worth a look. Only 26 years old when next season opens, he would be a guy that could stay for a few years providing stability.
If another team is willing to open their check book wider than the Titans for Verner, Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman is set to become a free agent this offseason. He has been wildly successful for 11 years in the NFL, but his 2013 campaign was cut short due to injury. If Verner does indeed leave, the Titans could bring in a veteran presence like Peanut Tillman. Being 33 years old at the start of next season, they could probably bring him in at a reduced rate as well.
There are plenty of moves that can, should, and will be made prior to the start of the 2014 regular season. Rest assured, the Titans are already planning to make moves that will bolster this squad into relevance. Making a bold push to get the coach they wanted was just the first step for a franchise that would like to remake their image. With the Whiz at the helm, expect some drastic changes to this roster between now and September.
What other moves would you like to see happen between now and then?