Cleat Geeks

On The Clock: Tennessee Titans 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the Tennessee Titans.

2015 Record: 3-13
Draft Pick: #1

 

Season Summary

The Titans started the season on a strong note, going on the road in Week 1 and creaming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14. In the first half of his first ever NFL game, quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for four touchdown passes.Tennessee Titans 2016 Offseason Preview

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. The Titans would go on to lose 13 of their next 15 games, finishing the season with a league-worst 3-13 record. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired after week 8, and Mike Mularkey was given the reigns. Tennessee did not improve much under the new regime, but nonetheless, Mularkey was retained as the head coach going into the 2016 season.

Re-Signings & Cuts

KendalWrightIt’s not like the Titans have a wealth of talent that they need to re-sign, but it might be wise to extend and restructure the contracts of Jason McCourty and Kendall Wright, who are slated to make $8.8 and $7.3 million dollars next year, respectively.

Michael Griffin was the first Titan to be cut, and he probably won’t be the last. The Titans can save significant money by releasing underachieving players such as WR Harry Douglas ($3 million in savings) and RB Dexter McCluster ($2.65 million).

Free Agency Needs

As of right now, the Titans have about $50 million in cap space. If they spend it wisely, they could use this money to make some serious improvements to their roster. Since they won’t be contending for a championship any time in the foreseeable future, they should look to invest in younger veterans coming off of their rookie contracts, rather than older ones.

Positions of need include pretty much everything but the quarterback; running backs, wide receivers, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs could all use some major improvements.

Lamar Miller and Doug Martin will be the two most heavily-pursued running backs in free agency, and either one would instantly make the Titans offense more dynamic. If WR Alshon Jeffrey hits the market, he would provide Marcus Mariota with a reliable target for years to come. Signing him will require some serious dough, and the Titans are one of the few teams that can afford to pay it.

There are several good linemen slated to hit free agency including Brandon Brooks, Stefan Wisniewski, Alex Boone, and Evan Mathis. DE Muhammad Wilkerson would be a great addition to the defensive line, giving the Titans two cornerstone players in him and Jurrell Casey. Tennessee should also look to pursue cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Casey Hayward.

Potential Draft Picks

LaremyTunsilOleMissThe Titans have the number one pick in the draft. Who they are able to sign in free agency will heavily dictate what they do, but as of right now, they have a lot of needs to fill.

The owners, coaches, and GMs in the NFL are probably more guilty of recency bias than any other sport. After Von Miller terrorized Tom Brady and Cam Newton en route to winning a Super Bowl, many predict the Titans will focus on protecting Mariota, and take OT Laremy Tunsil with the first pick.

EzekielElliottWhile this move would certainly help the team, it may not be their best choice. Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey might be the best player in this draft, and Tennessee could use a big boost to their secondary. In all honesty, their best move (though not very likely) would be to trade back and accumulate picks. Get their franchise RB Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, and use the future picks on offensive linemen and other needs that they did not fill in free agency. I would like to see them target a bigger-bodied wide receiver like Tyler Boyd in the second round or Rashard Higgins in the third.

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