After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.
2013 record: 7-9
Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $6.3 million
Draft situation: Have 11th overall pick, own all of their original picks except for their third-rounder (traded during 2013 draft to take Justin Hunter).
Revisiting 2013: The Titans started strong, winning three of four games in fairly shocking fashion, but things really got off track once Jake Locker got hurt in Week 4 against the New York Jets. Fitzpatrick came in and provided a few sparks, but once Locker reentered the lineup and then was hurt again, the season ran off the tracks. Even with a few late victories, it wasn't enough for head coach Mike Munchak to save his job. Although the defense had its moments, the offense was sporadic. Johnson didn't score his first rushing touchdown until November, and despite some decent totals turned in another somewhat uneven season way off his former pace.
Reasons for optimism: New head coach Ken Whisenhunt faced a bigger rebuilding process in his first job with the Arizona Cardinals, and there are some pieces to build around here. If you look at Whisenhunt's work with quarterbacks in the past (and close your eyes for a few seasons with the dregs of Kevin Kolb and Co.), Locker could have a chance to prove his worth. There are some sound receiving targets to help out, and the defense could return to being a sound unit. Plus, the AFC South is a bit down right now.
Glaring hole to fill: Johnson is roundly expected to be cut, and the Titans cannot go into the season with Shonn Greene as their primary option. Taking a running back with the 11th pick is not an option (a) because of the talent available and (b) because of other pressing needs. But it would not be surprising to see the Titans go for one in Round 2. Auburn's Tre Mason is just one name to keep in mind, as he would provide more burst than Greene or anyone else on the roster currently.
Toughest decision: The Titans' best corner, Verner, is set to hit the market if they do not re-sign him prior to free agency or place the franchise (or transition) tag on him. Is he an elite corner worth franchise designation and a tender north of $11 million? It's a fascinating debate. Last season, Verner stepped forward as one of the league's better corners, making five interceptions (one run back for a score) and offering good coverage and run support. But the Titans have a little depth at corner with Jason McCourty and Blidi Wreh-Wilson and others, and might only be in the $12 million range for cap space once they hack Johnson, and perhaps others. It would hurt to see Verner leave, but he doesn't possess elite physical characteristics and might not be worth top-shelf money.
Best-case offseason scenario: Locker likely will get some competition, maybe in the form of a young quarterback, which should provide a good battle for Whisenhunt's offense. If they can find a speed back, a right tackle candidate (to replace Stewart, a likely cap casualty) and perhaps a tight end, this has the makings of a decent offense. Losing Verner would be tough, but there are playmakers on all three levels. Adding some versatile D-line help to aid the transition from a 4-3 defense (likely) to a 3-4 scheme under new coordinator Ray Horton also could really help the process.
Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions
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