7 Tennessee Titans Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014
One of the least popular aspects of being a head coach in the NFL is deciding who to cut. Unfortunately, a roster only has 53 spots on it, and so there isn't room for everyone.
Occasionally, a very good player is cut, and he makes the team that cut him eventually regret it, but that's just the nature of the beast.
With the Tennessee Titans in a bad cap situation in 2014, not only are they going to have to cut guys who aren't good enough, but they're also going to have to say goodbye to solid veteran players as well if they want to have the money they'll need to pursue free agents.
Here are seven players who will be on the bubble for termination in 2014.
Note: All salary information was obtained from Over the Cap's page on the 2014 Titans.
1. Craig Stevens
Craig Stevens is a very good blocking tight end. Unfortunately for him, that's more or less all he's very good at. Now don't get me wrong; he's caught some passes and made some plays in his six years with the team, but they've been few.
Plus, with Delanie Walker having a solid season and Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter breaking out, there just aren't that many passes that will go to Stevens in the future.
Taylor Thompson has also turned into a solid blocker, and he's a much cheaper player to have on the roster. Cutting Stevens would free up $2.4 million in cap space, so I'd be surprised if the Titans kept him on.
2. Nate Washington
Another player the Titans might rule is too costly to keep around is Nate Washington. Washington is due $4.8 million in 2014, and none of it is guaranteed, so if the Titans cut him, they'd lose no money.
Now, with Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright looking like future superstars, there's not much room left for Washington, who will turn 31 by the time the season starts.
All that said, the Titans only have four receivers under contract in 2014. Michael Preston has shown promise, but I doubt the Titans would want to rely on him as the only alternative to Wright and Hunter.
Washington is also coming off of a great season where he had 919 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
He has been a reliable receiver for his entire career in Tennessee. With so many other wide receivers entering free agency and ways to make cap space from other cuts, I don't see Washington being let go.
3. Kamerion Wimbley
As I've said before, the Titans are not in a good place with the salary cap. They're going to have to cut some good players to free up space, and Kamerion Wimbley is likely to be one of those casualties.
Wimbley is due to make $6 million next year. That's a lot for a guy who only had 11 tackles on the season and turned 30 in October.
Now one thing that works in Wimbley's favor is that a large portion of his contract is guaranteed, so if the Titans cut him, they'll be taking on a lot of dead money. In fact, cutting Wimbley would only free up $2.4 million.
A better approach for Wimbley, since he is a solid rotational player, would be to get him to agree to an extension and a pay cut. With Ropati Pitoitua a free agent and the defensive end position already thin, keeping him on wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Of course, he may not agree to a pay cut. If that happens, I think he ends up being cut.
4. Quinn Johnson
Fullbacks are kind of a dying breed in the NFL. As the sport becomes more and more pass-oriented, having a roster spot taken up by someone who only occasionally sees the field is something that some teams feel isn't worth it.
Enter Quinn Johnson. Johnson has been a decent fullback, and he comes cheaply enough. But with a new coach coming in and two dynamic young receivers on the squad, the new head coach in Tennessee could opt for a more pass-oriented offense.
If that were to happen, Johnson might be out of a job. If he were a world-class fullback, he'd probably stay on, but with tight ends and running backs capable of doing a fullback's job, I think Johnson's time on the Titans is limited.
Cutting Johnson would give the Titans $730,000 in cap space—not a ton, but it's certainly nothing to sneeze at.
5. David Stewart
Seeing David Stewart on the list might be surprising, since he's undoubtedly one of the top right tackles in the league. His problem is his enormous paycheck.
Stewart is due to make $6.4 million next season. That would make him one of the highest-paid tackles in the league. He's certainly one of the best right tackles, but the Titans may decide he isn't worth quite that much.
Stewart has missed time in both 2012 and 2013 with injury, and he'll be 32 by the start of the 2014 season. Even worse for his spot on the team, none of Stewart's salary is guaranteed, which means cutting him frees up the entire $6.4 million pot.
There's also a fantastic offensive tackle class coming up in the 2014 draft, so drafting a new right tackle would be something the Titans could accomplish easily.
6. Colin McCarthy
When he's healthy, Colin McCarthy is a solid linebacker. He actually did a pretty good job of staying healthy in 2013 as well.
However, he lost the starting job to Moise Fokou, who started most of the season, even when McCarthy was healthy. He still got some playing time and managed 55 tackles, a defended pass, an interception and a forced fumble.
With his injury history and the chance that he'll be pushed even further down the depth chart after the draft, McCarthy will be one of the players in danger of losing his job in 2014.
In the end, I think McCarthy will stick around on the roster. He's a solid backup, and if the Titans draft a new middle linebacker, cutting Fokou would free up more cap space than cutting McCarthy.
7. Patrick Bailey
When special teams players are making over a million dollars, their days are numbered. Patrick Bailey is due to make $1.2 million in 2014, and with none of the money guaranteed, he'd be a great way to make a little cap room.
In his four years with the team, Bailey has a total of 42 tackles, most of them on special teams. Special teams players can be found everywhere, and even though Bailey is a decent tackler, he's pretty easy to replace.
I think his chances of making it are slim.