Every NFL GM will tell you this is the worst part of their job and Titans GM Jon Robinson said as much during the final preseason game. No one wants to be a dream killer, but teams must trim the rosters each year to reach the NFL’s limit.
Much of the roster is locked in before training camp, but there is a small army of hopefuls that battle it out for months hoping to nab those rare remaining spots on the roster bubble.
For most of these players, the bubble bursts, and they learn the hard work they’ve put in wasn’t enough to earn them a spot. A lucky few will be brought back onto the practice squad. However, even those players can change when a situation presents itself (like Josh Gordon’s eventual signing).
The job isn’t finished after the initial cuts are made however and the players at the bottom of the roster still can’t feel safe. From here until the end of the season the Tennessee Titans front office will be busy scouring other teams’ roster casualties to consider whether or not someone may be a better fit than any of the 53 who “made it” onto the initial roster.
The numbers game comes into play as well. For example, throughout the preseason, the debate was whether the Titans would carry six or seven receivers. They fooled us all and went with only five but now they have a sixth in Josh Gordon even though he is currently on the practice squad.
If we are talking about roster surprises, then this was the first surprise. Even after the news of Racey McMath’s hip injury, the Titans still decided against adding a sixth receiver to the roster (I’m not counting Cody Hollister).
Other surprising roster decisions by the Tennessee Titans
Malik Willis won the right to be Tannehill’s backup, the only question is whether or not the Titans are comfortable with him taking the reins should something happen to the starting quarterback. Many expected the Titans to keep all three quarterbacks so Willis could develop and Woodside would play if needed. The Titans must feel Malik is ready to go.
The Three Amigos Dez Fitzpatrick, Mason Kinsey, and Reggie Roberson
Kinsey looked good in limited action, particularly in the final game, and knows the system. Roberson flashed a bit in the preseason, and we heard many good things about him during training camp. I expected one of these guys to make it, possibly two. Seeing Fitzpatrick cut again is a huge disappointment. The Titans traded up to get him in the 4th round of the 2020 draft. Like everyone in that draft class not named Kristian Fulton, he has been a major bust.
Three More Amigos
Okay, I’m borrowing Dez Fitzpatrick from above and continuing a theme here. With the cuts of Fitzpatrick, Larrell Murchison, and Chris Jackson, the 2020 draft class officially earns a big fat “F.” Robinson had six picks in that draft class and blew five of them. Only one of those players is left on the roster, and that is 2nd round pick, Kristian Fulton. If the Titans’ window closes anytime soon, we can look back upon this draft as one reason why. You can’t add so little value from the draft and stay competitive.
Again, borrowing from above, but I’m talking about Chris Jackson and Theo Jackson, not Michael and Jermaine. Both were draft picks, Chris Jackson, a 7th round pick in the ill-fated 2020 draft class, and Theo Jackson, a sixth-round pick this year. To be fair, both players are on the practice squad, so it isn’t all bad news here.
I’m talking about Joe Jones, Jack Gibbens, and David Anenih. And yes, I know Anenih can be listed as a DE or LB, depending on how they line him up, but the official press release listed him at LB, so that’s what I’m going with here.
All three played exceptionally well in the preseason. Jones had a pick-six and a tackle for loss among his 16 tackles in the preseason. Gibbens tallied 19 tackles and seemed to be around the ball all the time. Anenih flashed with three sacks and finished with 7 tackles. Even when he didn’t make the play, he forced some throws and was around the ball. I’m unsure what Dylan Cole did to earn a spot over either of these guys.
Again, not all bad news here with Anenih and Jones both on the practice squad, so maybe there is hope for them (especially Anenih) to end up on the active roster at some point.
One player who was released with the obvious intention of coming back to the practice squad was TE Thomas Odukoya. He is from the Netherlands and comes to the Tennessee Titans via the International Player Pathway Program. These players come with special roster rules.
The Titans added him to the practice squad as an exemption player since he wasn’t chosen for the 53-man roster. Knowing this rule, the Titans were likely to cut him all along, as they could add him as an additional practice squad player, evaluate him further, and fill out the TE depth.
This is still a roster in progress and next week we will be talking about veterans that could be signed since that is when veteran contracts stop being guaranteed throughout the whole season. For now, though, this is your Tennessee Titans roster and it honestly looks pretty solid even compared to the standard they have set over the last few seasons.