Building A Foundation

Nashville, TN, United States / The Game Nashville

Monday night(12-29-14) 102.5 The Game will air a special show titled “Titans…What Is Next” starting at 3:00 with a round table of experts. But before the experts tackle the current state of the team, I’d like to offer the opinion of an observer. That being said, everything after this sentence is personal speculation and no sources have hinted at any of it. The Titans will enter the off-season with about $32 million in cap space before resigning their own players. Look for them to spend around $12 million of that resigning guys like Derrick Morgan, Karl Klug, Quentin Groves, and Brandon Harris. So the Titans are looking at about $20 million to upgrade their roster through free agency. Names like Ndamukong Suh and Darrelle Revis will be popular, but unrealistic for a team looking to add multiple pieces on a budget. The most important position in football is quarterback and the Titans have a question on their hands. Do they believe in Zach Mettenberger? If so, there is no need to make the position a priority. If not, they are looking at a free agent class headlined by possible band-aids Brian Hoyer and an old Mike Vick. Neither is a guy you want to build your franchise around at this point but both could be serviceable placeholders. Or the Titans could take a QB with the presumed #2 overall pick. That begins the argument of Mariota vs Winston. In my opionion if Mariota is there at #2, take him, it not, explore other options(including trading the pick for a package). Which brings us to a rumor that has begun making its rounds: Jay Cutler. In theory, the Titans could trade their #2 pick for the former Vandy product and the Bears’ 1st round pick, a probable top 10. If the Titans go that route, they could be looking at drafting a defensive standout like Landon Collins, Shane Ray, or Dante Fowler. The Titans have options at the QB position, whether its in house, through free agency, the draft or trade. But if they decide to go for Cutler, they will need something to help him, specifically running game. The Titans drafted Bishop Sankey last year and he hasn’t lived up to the hype yet. Luckily for the Titans the running back position is stocked with talent to be had in both free agency and the draft. Todd Gurly and Melvin Gordon are 2 backs that will make a lot of headlines in the 1st round of the draft while guys like Duke Johnson, Matt Jones, Mike Davis and Ameer Abdullah could all be solid value picks after the first day. There’s also a list of quality free agent backs that look to be available including Frank Gore, Ryan Matthews, and Mark Ingram among others. It is also probable that elite backs Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson will be available as well so if the Titans look to add a feature back, they have plenty to chose from.
In case you didn’t notice, the Titans lack talent and depth in the skill positions and that includes wide receiver. Again there is an impressive list of free agents to add to Kendall Wright but its unlikely the Titans can afford someone like Demaryius Thomas or Jeremy Maclin. However they might could find bargains in the guys like Louis Murphy or Torrey Smith. Luckily for the Titans they have a lot of young talent along the offensive line through recent drafts so no major spending spree is needed there.
So let’s play the what if game. Say the Titans make the trade for Cutler and get the Bears #1 pick. They use that pick to add a front 7 guy on defense to help the pass rush and run defense. They use their 2nd round pick on one of the previously mentioned tail backs(Johnson, Jones, Abdullah, Davis, ect) to compliment/ push Sankey. Then say they spend $7-10 million in cap space on 2 complimentary wide outs(resigning Nate Washington or other mid tier free agents). Maybe they are even able to land a much needed play maker like Thomas or Crabtree, or a reduced price for an injured Wes Welker. So imagine an offensive depth chart of Cutler, a pair of young backs with high upside, a wide receiver corps of Wright, Washington, and say Crabtree, with Walker returning at tight end and minor retweeking the o-line. That’s an upgraded offense that leaves a little money left to build the defense. In my opinion, in this scenario the top priority on defense would be getting another starting corner. Charles Tillman looks to be available and may come at a discount due to age. Kyle Wilson and Walter Thurman could also provide upgrades to the secondary. That would leave the Titans with just enough cap space to fill out the depth and maybe add a player like Stephen Paea or Anthony Spencer to help along the D-line.
Or the Titans could decide that Mettenberger is their guy and draft an Amare Cooper #2. That gives them a playmaker to put with Wright and Walker. Again take a running back in the 2nd round and use their cap space to build the defense.
Would these moves make the Titans a playoff team in 2015? Probably not. But it would be an upgrade for a team struggling to find any spark or identity. No matter what the Titans do, its important to know that it will take time to build the Titans into a contender. But this off-season is vital to starting the project.

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