With the numbers being thrown around as part of the new CBA negotiations we may be facing an upcoming free agent apocalypse. Word coming out of the talks between the NFL owners and the “Trade Association” known as the NFLPA (get real folks they’re still a union) is that a higher floor to the salary cap will be installed.
In the old collective bargaining agreement teams had to spend 86% of the allowed payroll or salary cap in order to ensure the players received their negotiated portion of the leagues revenue. The new floor be talked about is around 93%. This could lead to an absolute spending spree once the actual agreement gets signed and teams are allowed to pursue free agents. With that in mind here are a few guys in the front seven (the secondary will be addressed in a separate article) that could really improve the Titans in what is sure to be an ultra competitive and greatly shortened free agency period.
The Titans addressed their needs on the defensive line by selecting tackle Jurrell Casey in the third round of this year’s draft. One player is not going to turn that unit around. Tommie Harris was released by the Chicago Bear on May 1st before the lockout began. At 6ft 3in Harris fits the mold the Titans are looking for to get bigger on the defensive front. The 14th overall pick in 2004 and 3 time pro bowler was released in an apparent youth movement by the bears on their D line and to avoid paying him a roster bonus of 2.5 million dollars. Brandon Mebane of Seattle is also another option that could help the Titans in the middle.
Unfortunately D line is not the only place the Titans need major help. Linebacker could also use some help while younger players develop. Fourth round pick Colin McCarthy is expected to become the middle linebacker who ends up replacing Stephen Tulloch. But if Stephen Tulloch leaves in free agency, what do the Titans do? Two options, they move Witherspoon inside to MLB and go with McGrath and rookie second round pick Akeem Ayers on the outside; or they sign a veteran linebacker as a stopgap while McCarthy gets his feet wet.
A high intensity player who hits like a hammer and would immediately bring leadership to the locker room Tampa Bays MLB Barrett Ruud would be a perfect fit for the Titans. Ruud had a hard time adjusting to the two deep coverage favored by Tampa, which asks its MLB to do a lot in coverage. This could lead to a parting of the ways that favors the Titans. Undrafted rookie Mark Herzlich would also be a nice prospect to bring in and try to develop. Before a cancer diagnosis cost him a year of college football Herzlich was considered at one time to be a potential top ten pick.
One or two key players can greatly improve a team. Brett Favre proved it beyond a doubt in Minnesota. Fortunately the new rules governing team spending may help spur a traditionally frugal franchise into mixing it up with the heavy spenders in free agency. For the fans sake, I sure hope so. If not it will be a long season.