There was almost no chance that Harold Landry was going anywhere this offseason. He would have been in high demand, but Landry has been as selfless as any player in recent history and he spent the majority of his rookie contract sacrificing his stat line so that the other people could thrive.
Combining that team-first mentality with a career season as a pass rusher was always going to make it hard for Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel to let him go. The key for everyone was avoiding the franchise tag and the $18 million cap hit that came along with it.
Since it looks like Landry is only going to cost about $5.5 million against the cap this season, that opens up several possibilities for the Tennessee Titans in free agency.
After re-signing Logan Woodside, Teair Tart, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine the Titans figure to be around $14 million above the salary cap.
NFL teams have to be below that salary cap at the start of free agency, so for the Titans and every other team in the NFL, the top priority right now is creating as much cap space as possible.
How can the Tennessee Titans create cap space?
There are a lot of different ways that the Tennessee Titans can free money up over the next five days, but one of the ways that make the most sense is by restructuring contracts.
Technically the Titans could restructure a dozen players or so, but the names that jump out are Taylor Lewan and Zach Cunningham. Updated deals for them would open up about $11.5 million in space, and it would mean that they don’t have to add left tackle and linebacker to their need list for the offseason.
Two other players that could be restructured are Kevin Byard and Derrick Henry, both of which were mentioned by name in a hit that Cameron Wolfe did for NFL Network this weekend. If Robinson chose to do that, it would open up an additional $12.5 million.
After restructures, the other move is to cut some players with obvious replacements or bad contracts. The guys that fall into that category are Rodger Saffold, Jackrabbit Jenkins, and Kendall Lamm, and if all three of those guys are cut it would open up an additional $20.5 million.
If they did all three of those things they would end up with $30.5 million in cap space to play with.
In this hypothetical, the Tennessee Titans would enter free agency with Taylor Lewan still on the roster so they would only need to find starters at center, left guard, tight end(s), and WR3. With two top-100 draft picks the Titans could really pick their spots in free agency and have the money to pay for almost anyone that they want.
Would they take big swings? Probably not because there aren’t many guys who will hit the market who are worth taking big swings on. Still, having the ability to bring in a few “B to B+” level players at those positions of need would set them up to take their shot in the draft.