4 Tennessee Titans players that need to stand out down the stretch

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports /

Whether you are upset or happy that Jon Robinson is no longer the Tennessee Titans GM, the move has been made and everything is up in the air.

The one thing we know is that Amy Adams Strunk made the decision to fire the franchise’s most successful GMs while retaining the head coach. That means that Mike Vrabel is going to have more power over roster decisions than he has in the past and it is smart to assume that he is going to have a hand in choosing the next GM.

How much control he has over the roster and over the team’s future moves is up for debate, but at the minimum, it is safe to say that his stamp of approval (or disapproval) will mean a lot. If there are guys on the roster who are only on the roster because they were “Jon Robinson guys” then we will know about it pretty quickly.

With big cap hits and questionable performances this season, these players are going to need to do something to make sure that they aren’t cap casualties this offseason.

Which Tennessee Titans need to stand out to stay on the roster

1. Bud Dupree, EDGE ($9.35 million in cap savings)

It has been documented how much better the Tennessee Titans’ pass rush is when Bud Dupree is on the field. Whether he is lined up opposite Harold Landry or Denico Autry, the spike in production when he is available is clear.

Despite that, a new GM is going to look at his production and wonder if that ~$10 million in cap space could be used on the offensive line or as part of a new deal for Jeffery Simmons.

2. Robert Woods, WR ($12.02 million in cap savings)

This one is going to be difficult because Robert Woods is someone that Mike Vrabel has always had glowing praise for and he clearly appreciates his efforts as a run-blocker. Having said that, the cap space he would open up is significant.

While a reworked deal would probably be best for everyone, an outright cut would be more than enough to pay for an impending free agent like Nate Davis or David Long Jr.

3. Ryan Tannehill, QB ($17.8 million in cap savings)

Mike Vrabel is probably locked into whatever opinion he has on Ryan Tannehill, but the gap between what Tannehill and what Malik Willis can do in 2023 is going to be the question here.

A strong finish to the season would almost certainly help him keep his job for 2023, but a win in the playoffs would do even more.

If the season ends on a low note or with a string of disappointing finishes, then that could mean the end for Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans. Given that we have seen trades for Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, etc. it is hard to imagine the Tennessee Titans cutting him when there is such a premium on any quarterback with starting experience.

4. Zach Cunningham, LB ($9.25 million in cap savings)

Just like in the previous situation, Mike Vrabel probably has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do with Zach Cunningham this offseason. If Cunningham could come back strong from I.R. (which we haven’t heard anything about) then maybe he could convince the Tennessee Titans to restructure his deal instead of an outright cut, but he was injured right when he was starting to hit his stride and he just hasn’t looked like someone the Titans can afford rolling the dice on next year.

If the Tennessee Titans really shake things up and cut or trade all four of these players (and Taylor Lewan which seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point) they would have about $48 million in cap space to spend.

What makes it even more enticing is that it adds $60 million to the books in 2024, which means the Tennessee Titans would have a whopping $172 million in cap space that year. That would give the front office quite a bit of freedom to creatively structure contracts.

In reality, I think fans that want the team to win the AFC South and get another shot at the postseason should hope for Dupree and Cunningham to be cut and for Ryan Tannehill and Robert Woods to have their contracts restructured.

For Dupree, Harold Landry will be back next season and the team would still have Denico Autry and Rashad Weaver to round out the position. Based on the 2022 tape, Cunningham can be replaced by Dylan Cole or Monty Rice at a much cheaper price.