COMMENTARY | With NFL free agency right around the corner, it is time for the Titans to look at who they might need to retain, and who they will have to let test the market. Here are the free agents, cap casualties and potential trade bait for Tennessee.
Notable free agents:
Alterraun Verner CB- Referred to as ATV by the fan base, Alterraun Verner is a clearly a fan favorite for many of the Titans faithful. After almost being demoted or asked to switch positions, Verner rebounded by having an All-Pro caliber season. Verner has already said that he will at least test free agency to gauge interest from other teams, and he should, he has earned that after playing on a fourth round contract early in his career.
ATV is the type of corner that every franchise (outside of Seattle) dreams of, he is smart, physical, instinctive on the field, and courteous off the field. Look for him to seek top-five CB money in free agency.
Bernard Pollard S- Pollard did have the highlight reel of hits he usually has, but his influence on the secondary and the defense, as a whole, was remarkable. The defensive backfield was more physical in every aspect and his presence in the locker room was very valuable for a team lacking leadership.
Ropati Pitoitua DE- Pitoitua deserves a lot of praise for his play this year. No one thought the mammoth DE would be a starter, but he surprised everyone by being the second best defensive lineman on the team. A team looking for a 4-3 run-stuffing DE should really consider signing Pitoitua to a multi-year deal.
Leon Washington RB/KR- After a year of terrible special teams play, Washington was a great addition. As a kick returner, Washington routinely made something out of nothing and put the offense in a position to succeed.
Damian Williams WR- Despite never earning a starting job without an injury, Williams has always been one of the most dependable sideline receivers that Tennessee has had. He won't break the bank in free agency, but he could be a sneaky good addition to a WR-needy team.
Antonio "Mookie" Johnson DT- Lining up next to Jurrell Casey should make anyone look good, but more than anyone else Mookie Johnson took advantage. I think he is the epitome of someone that gets exactly what is given to him, which isn't a bad thing. If a team has a Casey, Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh, or Gerald McCoy then he will be productive if not then you will probably have to overpay him for limited production.
Rob Turner C- Turner was a decent center especially pre-snap. While his lack of strength was a big issue toward the end of his starting days, his ability to get the line communicating was a great asset to Tennessee and he should earn a backup job somewhere.
Other free agents:
Mike Otto OT
Kenny Britt WR
Rusty Smith QB
Kevin Matthews C
Kevin Walter WR
Chris Spencer C/G
Likely cap casualties:
Chris Johnson RB- Chris Johnson was the face of the franchise, but his time is clearly over as anyone who has watched him all season knows. The only reason to pay a running back $10 million is if he can create big plays consistently despite a bad offensive line. There are just too many running backs available that could do what he does for a fraction of the price.
A team looking for a workhorse running back could look here in free agency, but he should make around half of what he was scheduled to make for Tennessee.
Kamerion Wimbley DE- Wimbley looked like a great pick up last in 2012, but after being demoted to sub packages this year, he looks overpriced. Wimbley is a free agent that should attract attention from teams interested in Sean Phillips or Jared Allen but he will be much cheaper.
David Stewart RT- Stewart really had a bad year this year. A plethora of injuries prevented him from practicing on a weekly basis and his play on game day doesn't warrant paying him north of $6 million in 2014. A team looking for a veteran RT who can be solid, but not spectacular for 12 games should look at Stewart.
Craig Stevens TE- Stevens is a great blocking TE, but with the growth of Taylor Thompson and the signing of Delanie Walker, Stevens has essentially been phased out of the offense. Stevens will find a job elsewhere and he will be valuable to a power-running team that doesn't have that flexible TE.
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB- Fitzpatrick was exactly what he has been for the duration of his career, meaning he is solid but he always makes critical mistakes. Some team will sign him as a backup just like the Titans did, and fans will cringe if their starting quarterback goes down.
Total savings ($16 million in 2014, $23 million in 2015)
Nate Washington WR- Washington is a stud but he probably only has two or three good years left, and he will have even less if he keeps getting banged up. Teams like San Francisco, New England, New Orleans, Denver (if they don't retain Decker), the Giants, the Jets, or Pittsburgh should really consider making the Titans an offer for Washington. The aging WR has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards twice in the last three years and provides a consistent spark and leadership for an offense.
More from this contributor: Will Lomas
Will Lomas is a lead blogger for draftseason.com and a staff writer for SBNation's Tennessee Titans website Music City Miracles. Will is also the sports editor for the Tennessee Journalist, the University of Tennessee's online news source.
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- Alterraun Verner
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