Tennessee Titans Free Agency Primer: Needs, Space and Who to Re-Sign

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

"Cut me? No way!"
"Cut me? No way!"Tom Lynn/Getty Images

Mike Munchak may have survived a disastrous 2012 season in Tennessee, but if the team doesn't improve in a hurry, he won't be back for 2014.

Free agency is one of the primary ways the Titans can seek to improve the talent on the roster. Free agency is often a trap. It rarely pays off the way fans expect. In general, smart GMs stay out of the free-agent market entirely. Losing free agents without replacing them can result in compensatory picks which often wind up as cheaper, more valuable solutions than the players that were lost.

Still, for a team facing a lot of pressure, it can be an attractive short-term fix. Here's everything you need to know about the Titans in free agency.


Cap Space

According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, the Titans have $19.4 million in available caps space for 2013. That number could jump a couple of million dollars if they choose to part ways with Chris Johnson, however.

They could save additional money by cutting Eugene Amano or Matt Hasselbeck.

Cap space doesn't mean the team can use all the free money on free agents, however. They still will have some of their own players to retain.

The Titans will also have to leave between $4 million and $6 million for the rookie salary pool.

Tennessee has solid flexibility without necessarily possessing an embarrassment of riches to spend wildly.


Players to Re-Sign

The following Titans will need their contracts addressed by the team if they are going to be back in two-tone blue in 2013: Jared Cook, Darius Reynaud, Rob Bironas and Fernando Velasco.

While there are other role players the team may want back, those four are the biggest contributors.

Velasco was very good in 2012 and should be resigned. Cook was unhappy most of the year and may not want to comeback. Reynaud and Brionas are both special teams standouts and should be brought back if possible.

All in all, it's not a costly bunch. If spaced correctly, the Titans should have little trouble retaining the players they want for less than half their available cap space.


Positions to Target

It's too early to build an available free-agent list. Teams have until March 12 to re-sign their own players before they become free agents, so any list of available names would be purely speculative.

After re-signing players and saving room for rookies, the Titans aren't exactly swimming in cash.

What money they do have to spend has got to go toward shoring up the worst scoring defense in football.

Tennessee still has yet to find a viable pass rusher. They've had success blitzing linebackers, but unless they plan on morphing into a 3-4 defense, they'll need more pressure from the defensive line.

They picked up Kamerion Wimbley in free agency last year, but he clearly didn't solve the problem. They have to do better than adding just six sacks this go around.

Other weaknesses on defense can be fixed by better health from Colin McCarthy and better play from Michael Griffin, but the answer at tackle is probably not Sen'Derrick Marks, who has been bad for years.

Corner depth would also be a plus for a secondary that struggled when spread out.

If there is money left over, the Titans desperately need depth and quality on the offensive line. Velasco, Roos and David Stewart were all reliable, but pending free agent Leroy Harris and Deuce Lutui were a mess at right guard.

Guards can come cheap on the open market, so even if cash gets tight, the Titans may be able to find a suitable upgrade.