It doesn't matter if it is the Tennessee Titans or one of the 31 other NFL teams, you always have to be careful what you take to heart in press conferences because owners lie, coaches lie, and players lie. If you want the real story just follow the money.
Despite what those in the organization are saying, there seems to be an identity crisis going on with the Tennessee Titans.
Going back to the week that the Tennessee Titans fired former GM Jon Robinson, there were reports coming out that the team wasn't aiming for a rebuild in 2023. In fact, the reason they fired Robinson during the season was so that they could take their time and seek out a GM who could help this team get back into contention with a one-year "reload" instead of a rebuild.
And then Mike Vrabel and the Titans finished the season on one of the franchises worst losing streaks which included a loss in the final week of the season to hand the AFC South title to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That atrocious streak might have put a little bit more pressure on the decision-makers in the building than many people want to admit right now.
The good news is that whether they really believe they can be contenders this season or not, they don't have that much riding on this season according to an interesting graph posted by Jason Fitzgerald of OTC.
What the Tennessee Titans spending says about 2023
According to the graph below and the accompanying thread, the Tennessee Titans are one of the nine teams that fall squarely in the top right quadrant of this graph. For reference, that graph is using 2024 cap space as the X-axis and impending free agents who played more than 30% of the team's snaps last year.
That section in the top right is a section Jason describes like this, "Teams in the top right are in a strong position with the cap next year and can decide between free agency or extending their own to improve."
Now, some free agents will be more important than others. For example, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are 2 of the 11 free agents that qualify for the Y-axis. However, so are Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Aaron Brewer, Morgan Cox, Chris Moore, and Ben Niemann.
In reality, I would imagine that the current plan for the bulk of the impending free agents is to let them walk after the season regardless of how much money they have. Because of Mike Vrabel's disdain for injuries and the age of some of the impending free agents, Aaron Brewer, Teair Tart, and Sean Murphy-Bunting are the only guys that stand out as UFAs that I think have a good chance of being here in 2024.
As it stands right now, I believe that before the start of the 2024 season, the Tennessee Titans will have to find a new WR2, C, ILB, and CB in addition to finding depth for a few position groups as well.
With all of that said, I believe that the Tennessee Titans are trying to be competitive this season, but don't be surprised or discouraged if they can't close the deal with DeAndre Hopkins and they have another bad season. Either way, the crucial offseason for this franchise will take place in 2024.