Preparations for free agency are underway with the Titans making a plethora of moves on Wednesday.
The team released long-time LT Taylor Lewan, Kicker Randy Bullock, WR Robert Woods, and LB Zach Cunningham.
Taylor Lewan was the longest tenured Titan on the team. After being the team's 11th overall pick in 2014, he started 100 games over 9 seasons, made 3 pro bowls, and earned 1 all-pro designation. After signing the largest contract for a Left Tackle in NFL history in 2018, injuries struck. He missed 36 games in his final 4 seasons with a concussion, 2 ACL tears, and more.
Off the field, Lewan made a significant impact. His Bussin' With The Boys podcast grew into one of the biggest sports podcasts in the country, thus garnering him a lot of attention away from the Titans.
With $14.8m due in 2023, this move makes a lot of sense. He had multiple great seasons and clearly cared greatly about the city and team but his play on the field combined with injuries indicated that his time was coming to an end.
Randy Bullock came as somewhat of a surprise initially. In his two seasons with the Titans, he was a combined 43/51 (84%) which is about average across the league. GM Ran Carthon likely made the cut because of his struggle from distances of more than 40 yards. While he was 2/3 from 50+ yards in his 2 seasons, the 3 attempts is what stands out given that Mike Vrabel did not trust his leg from distance.
An issue since Ryan Succop was injured in 2019, the Titans are now back to the kicker search.
Robert Woods tweeted "Free!" minutes after being released by the Titans. Free is something he was not very often in 2022 as he struggled to compliment WR Treylon Burks in what admittedly was a struggling passing game.
Looking back at some of Woods comments during the season, it becomes more evident that he was fed up with the way the season was going. Most notably, he wanted the team to throw the ball more, likely an indictment of former OC, Todd Downing.
When Tennessee traded for Woods in the offseason, it seemed like a no-brainer, acquiring a former pro-bowler for a 6th round pick. I still believe Woods is a good player and could contribute elsewhere but he got little separation, did not make clutch catches and was not the safety blanket for Tannehill I expected him to be.
Zach Cunningham is the hardest to judge of the group because he was not on the field very much in 2022 due to an elbow injury. While he is a hard hitter and brings energy, he was often a liability on passing downs. At the time of his signing, it made a lot of sense, adding a league-leader in tackles ahead of the 2022 playoffs. I would have honestly preferred to keep him around as he has obvious potential when healthy.
With these 4 moves, the Titans created about $29m in cap space, going from 25m over the salary cap to 4m below.
Other cap casualties could include OLB Bud Dupree, C Ben Jones, or someone less predictable. Really, I was surprised Dupree was not included in the cuts given his $20m cap hit and 7 sacks in 2 seasons but I think it was avoided due to the $10.8m dead cap hit.
The Titans have a few glaring issues heading into the March 15th Free Agency beginning. Notably, the team needs a serious rework at receiver, depth across the offensive line, an outside linebacker, and a corner.
There are also big contract decisions to be made. G Nate Davis, a consistent starter since 2019, TE Austin Hooper, a late-season breakout and solid pass-catcher, LB David Long Jr, one of the best 6th round picks I have ever seen, and 5 defensive backs like Andrew Adams and Terrance Mitchell are not under contract for 2023.
As far as free agent targets, there are no receivers capable of the WR1 role. I love KC's LT Orlando Brown Jr, a number of safeties, and a few receivers like Nelson Agholor and Darius Slayton that could be good compliments to a top WR acquired through trade.
GM Ran Carthon is off to a relatively predictable but active start. With his proven ability to build a roster, I am very optimistic about his ability to improve the 7-10 Titans throughout the offseason.