The Tennessee Titans have hit an offseason of crossroads in the Mike Vrabel era.
Tennessee finished below .500 for the first time since 2015 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018. GM Jon Robinson was fired midseason, and Ran Carthon was hired in January as his replacement.
Ryan Tannehill and Taylor Lewan are over the age of 30, and the team can save a lot of cap space by releasing the pair sometime this offseason. Derrick Henry has one year remaining on his current deal as he closes in on the age where most running backs have a dip in production. Or the Titans can decide to run it back with this offensive core one more time in some shape or form.
It’s an important offseason. Titans fans will know a lot more of the future of the franchise by the time the team walks onto the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park to begin training camp in July.
Here’s a full offseason rundown for the Titans as they look to return to the top of the AFC South:
Key dates on NFL offseason 2023 calendar
- February 13: Waiver system restarts for the 2023 season
- February 21: Teams can now designate a franchise or transition tag for a unrestricted free agent
- March 7: Deadline for teams to designate franchise/transition tags
- March 13: Legal tampering period begins; teams can negotiate with unrestricted free agents but cannot yet sign a deal.
- March 15: Free agency begins, as does the formal league year. Trades can now be completed.
- April 17: Offseason programs begin for teams with returning head coaches
- April 27-29: 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City
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Titans current 2023 cap space
The Titans are currently $23.6 million over the cap, according to Spotrac. But there’s no real reason for concern. More on that later.
Titans unrestricted free agents
- QB Joshua Dobbs
- RB Dontrell Hilliard
- RB Trenton Cannon
- TE Austin Hooper
- TE Geoff Swaim
- WR Chris Conley
- WR C.J. Board
- WR Cody Hollister
- OL Nate Davis
- OL Corey Levin
- OT Dennis Daley
- OT Le’Raven Clark
- DL Mario Edwards
- DL Da’shawn Hand
- DL DeMarcus Walker
- DL Kevin Strong
- DE Tarell Basham
- LB David Long
- LB Dylan Cole
- LB Joe Jones
- LB Andre Smith
- CB Joshua Kalu
- CB Lonnie Johnson
- CB Terrance Mitchell
- CB Davontae Harris
- DB Andrew Adams
- DB A.J. Moore
- DB Greg Mabin
- LS Morgan Cox
Of the group, Davis, Long and Hooper could command the largest salary and term on the open market.
Titans restricted/exclusive rights free agents
- WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (RFA)
- OL Daniel Munyer (ERFA)
- OL Aaron Brewer (RFA)
- DL Naquan Jones (ERFA)
- DL Teair Tart (RFA)
What about the QBs?
Ryan Tannehill has a $36.6 million cap hit and would save the Titans $27 million if designated a post-June 1 release. That being said, someone would have to be Tennessee’s starting QB in 2023. If it’s an external veteran option, it could be more expensive than the cap savings to replace Tannehill.
Malik Willis is the other QB currently signed for 2023, on a rookie deal that has a $1.17 million cap charge in 2023. Joshua Dobbs is a free agent heading into the offseason.
Who are some cap casualty candidates?
Tennessee can get well under the salary cap limit by making some veteran releases. We’ll note both the pre-June 1 and post-June 1 savings, since the Titans can only designate two players as post-June 1 releases.
Among those per Spotrac ….
- Ryan Tannehill ($17.8 million in cap savings as pre-June 1 release, $27 million as post-June 1 release on final year of current deal)
- Taylor Lewan ($14.84 million in cap savings in final year of current deal)
- Bud Dupree ($9.35 million in cap savings as pre-June 1 release, $15.75 million as post-June 1 release with three years left on current deal)
- Robert Woods ($12 million in cap savings as pre-June 1 release, $13.75 million as post-June 1 release with three years left on current deal)
- Zach Cunningham ($8.9 million in cap savings as pre-June 1 release, $11.1 million as post-June 1 release with two years left on current deal)
- Ben Jones ($3.7 million in cap savings as pre-June 1 release, $6 million as post-June 1 release on final year of current deal)
- Randy Bullock ($2.07 million in cap savings on final year of current deal)
Derrick Henry is not a likely cap casualty, but his $16.37 million cap hit could be adjusted by a contract extension. Harold Landry and Kevin Byard could also save the Titans some money with restructured deals that spread out each player’s base salary.
Which QBs might Titans target?
A good question. The QB market has been rather chaotic over the last few seasons for those without an elite player at the position.
Multiple reports indicate that Aaron Rodgers is available via trade from the Green Bay Packers. It’s not a deal the league has seen before, a future Hall of Fame quarterback who was the league MVP 12 months ago but is in his late 30s. What will it take to acquire Rodgers? Would he want to come to Nashville?
Derek Carr is available after the Raiders released him on Feb. 14. Carr’s $32.9 million cap charge plus $7.5 million of his 2024 salary would have been guaranteed if he was on the Raiders roster on Feb. 15.
Lamar Jackson’s rookie deal is up, and both a potential trade and contract would rival what the Browns had to give up last spring for Deshaun Watson. Spotrac has Jackson’s market value at $40.7 million for 2023. Baltimore would be foolish to not give Jackson a franchise tag to preserve his trade market, but would Jackson be willing to play on the one-year franchise tag deal?
Other potential free agent options include: Seattle’s Geno Smith, NY Giants’ Daniel Jones, New Orleans’ Andy Dalton, Cleveland’s Jacoby Brissett, Carolina’s Sam Darnold, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and LA Rams’ Baker Mayfield. Smith told SiriusXM NFL Radio during Pro Bowl week that the Seahawks and Smith are talking about re-signing him after an excellent 2022. Jones played clean football in leading the Giants to the playoffs. The rest of the list looks like Bridge Quarterback, Inc.
Tennessee has the No. 11 pick in the first round of April’s draft. It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that the top four quarterbacks will be selected in the top 10.
Titans current 2023 draft picks
- Round 1, pick No. 11
- Round 2, pick No. 41
- Round 3, pick No. 72
- Round 5, pick No. 149
- Round 6, pick No. 186
- Round 7, pick No. 230