Tennessee Titans Look Ahead to 2009

Dan CottonContributor IJanuary 16, 2009

The Titans' season ended unexpectedly last Saturday in their 13-10 home loss to the Ravens in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. The Titans dominated the stats line, but in the end three costly turnovers, all inside the Ravens' 20-yard line, did them in.

Another big factor in the loss was losing Pro Bowl rookie RB Chris Johnson just before halftime with a high ankle sprain. If the Titans had beaten the Ravens, Johnson would have been doubtful for the AFC Championship Game.

Next up for the Titans is free agency and the rookie draft in late April. What the Titans do in free agency will determine what direction they go in the draft. A total of 14 Titans are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when the market opens on February 27th.

Tops on that list is Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, and my gut feeling says the Titans make Haynesworth the highest paid defensive tackle in the league by signing him to a long term deal.

Next on the list are kicker Rob Bironas and quarterback Kerry Collins. My gut tells me the Titans find a way to keep both, and Collins will go into 2009 as the starting quarterback over Vince Young.

Others the Titans will look to resign include tight end Bo Scaife, safety Vincent Fuller and wide receiver Brandon Jones. One move the Titans will have to make is finding a new punter, as long-time punter Craig Hentrich is looking hard at calling it a career.

Two others whose are odds are better than 50-50 that they return include corner back/returner Chris Carr and third string quarterback Chris Simms.

Titans who are free agents not likely to return for 2009 include wide receiver Justin McCareins, defensive back Reynaldo Hill, cornerback Tyrone Poole and offensive lineman Daniel Loper.

Wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line, and punter will all be positions the Titans target in free agency. Wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and safety will be priorities, along with some backup help on the offensive line, that the Titans will need to address in the upcoming draft.

The Titans have typically not drafted a wide receiver in the first round, but if someone like Maryland's Darrius Heywood-Bay or Percy Harvin is around at the 30th pick it would be hard for the Titans to pass up. Odds are the Titans go defense and draft a corner like Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith.

Something the Titans might consider on day two of the draft—especially if they don't resign Chris Simms—is adding a quarterback like Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman which they look to develop for the future. It will be an interesting offseason in Nashville, to say the least, so Titans fans stay tuned.