Where do the Tennessee Titans stack up to the rest of the NFL in terms of spending.
The Tennessee Titans are in a strange spot. They have a solid roster, but with several things keep this team from taking the next step.
Take your pick of which one is the most important:
-Delanie Walker getting injured
-Rishard Matthews quitting the team
-Taywan Taylor failing to progress
-Russ Grimm quietly being the reason why the interior OL looked passable
-The veterans slowly regressing and leaving the team without impact playmakers
But whatever you say, the good news is that the Titans at least have some money to play with the fix those problems over the next year or two. I would bet that the Titans aren’t jumping at the chance to extend Marcus Mariota yet (even though I think it eventually gets done) and several big name players are coming off the books.
So, with that in mind I thought I would take a look at where the Titans should have more money to spend than most next year. The way to do this is to find the average spending at each position, find the deficit or surplus spend, then use that to make a guess as to what the Titans will do next.
The biggest piece of this puzzle is the league average per position, and thankfully Jason at Over the Cap tweeted this earlier.
So now, let’s do some math. Here is how much the Titans are spending at each position in 2019:
1. Quarterback average: $18.3 million
Titans are spending: $22.9 million (Marcus Mariota, Blaine Gabbert)
The Titans are going to play Mariota on the 5th year option next year as they take one more hard look at him. Sure they could extend him, but I am going to bet that they are willing to risk that instead of paying him a premium now.
Blaine Gabbert is making $2 million, $1.5 million of which could be made back if they cut him and bring in a different backup.
2. EDGE average: $18.2 million
$3.3 million (Harold Landry, Kamalei Correa, Sharif Finch)
Over/Under: WAY under
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The Titans are paying nearly $15 million less at the position than league average. I truly believe that Tennessee is going to make a strong play after one of these names this offseason:
And they are going to spend a good chunk of money to do it. I also expect them to get involved in the trade market for players that teams believe are too expensive like Olivier Vernon, Chandler Jones or Soloman Thomas.
3. Wide Receiver average: $17.7 million
Titans are spending: $10 million (Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Darius Jennings, Cameron Batson)
Over/Under: Way under
The Titans are about $7 million under the league average here and this is another position where I expect them to add a big name.
Golden Tate is the name I expect to see most often, but guys like John Brown, Tyrell Williams and Adam Humphries also make a lot of sense.
4. Cornerback average: $16.1 million
Titans are spending: $28 million (Adoree Jackson, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, LeShaun Sims)
Over/Under: Way over
Yuck. Butler looks like a terrible signing and the Titans really can’t get rid of that contract until the offseason after this one. This is somewhere I expect them to leave alone, understanding that they have starters and depth there already.
5. Interior DL average: $14.4 million
Titans are spending: $21.9 million (Jurrell Casey, Daquan Jones, Austin Johnson)
Man, speaking of bad signings Jones has been a non factor this year. I don’t know what they need to do to fix that, but they need someone to help out at that spot and they need to either restructure him or do something because he is killing their average here.
Jurrell Casey is set to make $12.8 million next year which would make him around 11th in terms of all IDLs. That seemed like a value deal at first and even into the season, but over the last six weeks or so that number has seemed high. I still have faith in Casey, but he is going to need to prove Jon Robinson’s good faith was the right decision sooner rather than later.
6. Linebacker average: $12.4 million
Titans are spending: $9.2 million (Wesley Woodyard, Rashaan Evans, Darren Bates, Jayon Brown)
The Titans have really solid value here. Having three starting caliber linebackers as well as a great special teams player is a great job by Jon Robinson. I don’t expect any moves here at this point.
7. Safety average: $11 million
Titans are spending: $8.5 million (Johnathan Cyprien, Kevin Byard, Dane Cruikshank)
This is under, but I am not sure what I expect. On one hand, it makes a ton of sense to bring back Kenny Vaccaro and cut Cyp despite the fact that I do think Cyp would do a good job in this defense.
Will it cost more to have Vaccaro on the roster than it will Cyp? Is he going to demand a $5 million raise or will he choose stability over going on the market again and waiting for another perfect opportunity?
8. Guard average: $9.7 million
Titans are spending: $6.7 million (Quinton Spain)
This is one that will have to change. With only one guard on the roster for 2019 there will have to be a new player brought in unless they plan on moving Corey Levin from center to guard.
I think drafting IOL in the first round is always a waste of a pick compared to the talent you can almost only get at other positions in the first round, but spending a Day 2 draft pick or later on a guard could make some sense.
9. Left Tackle average: $8.6 million
Titans are spending: $16.7 million (Taylor Lewan)
Yea, I have zero problems with this. Lewan is a pro bowl left tackle in a league that lacks talent at the position. Glad the Titans paid to keep him.
10. Tight End average: $7.8 million
Titans are spending: $8.2 million (Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser)
Again, I have no problem with this. Delanie Walker makes up the majority of this cap hit and I think Firkser can be a solid TE2 for now. Smith is average at best right now and the team is funneling passes to him to keep him productive (largely because they need to get someone the ball when Davis is covered).
This is another position I could see a move though if some great talent fell in the draft.
11. Running back average: $7 million
Titans are spending: $6.6 million (Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry)
Over/Under: Under (barely)
This is a cheap combination right now. Lewis is making solid money but Henry is still on his cheap 2nd round rookie deal.
I would bet there is some change at this position in the offseason and Henry’s low cost is going to be a selling point if there is a trade market out there. If that happens I expect the Titans to try and find a cheap backup/compliment in the draft.
12. Center average: $6 million
Titans are spending: $6.1 million (Ben Jones, Corey Levin)
Over/Under: Over (barely)
Ben Jones has had a down year and Levin may be the one to replace him. If he is, the Titans can get $4.5 million dollars back by cutting Jones this offseason.
13. Right Tackle average: $5.1 million
Titans are spending: $6.7 million (Jack Conklin, Dennis Kelly)
Again, I don’t mind this. During the games where Conklin hasn’t struggled with a concussion he has been fine. A nice bonus here is that Kelly is probably the best swing tackle in the NFL and he could probably start at right tackle or guard for the Titans if they think a shake up will help the offensive line play better down the stretch or into 2019.
So what does it all mean?
It means that if the numbers tell us anything, there is a good chance the Titans would like to fix their problems at EDGE and WR in free agency where they are well below average in total spending.
It also means that any potential help at IDL or CB is going to have to come through free agency given past spending mistakes at those positions.
Would it be the worst thing in the world to see this team go out and sign Preston Smith and Golden Tate in free agency while they draft a pair of guys like Jeffery Simmons in the 1st round and a 4th round pick on Joejuan Williams?
It may mean nothing, but this is a great look at what makes the most sense for the Titans this offense. I would imagine this is “plan A” in terms of spending to fix personnel. Anything else that happens is probably a reaction to the market or the draft class.