Tennessee Titans Free Agency: Tracking 2012 Signings, Targets and Rumors

Zach Law@zach_lawContributor IFebruary 28, 2012

Tennessee Titans Free Agency: Tracking 2012 Signings, Targets and Rumors

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    The Tennessee Titans may have surprised the league and their fan base with 9-7 record, flirting with a playoff berth, but get one thing straight.

    This team is in the middle of rebuilding mode.

    This is going to be your one-stop shop in finding out how the rebuilding is going during the 2012 offseason.

    We'll begin by reviewing the team's signings to date this offseason, then we'll get into the salary cap situation and analyze Tennessee's most glaring roster holes.

    Continuing, we'll list the team's current free agents, determine their average dollar value and project whether the Titans will re-sign the players.

    Of course, the Titans still need to consider free agents beyond their own organization, so we'll also take a look at the Titans' potential cap situation after re-signings, team needs after these re-signings which free agents are available that best fit the Titans' roster and what contracts the Titans could offer to these free-agent targets.

    Finally, we'll take a look at holes the Titans will still need to fill through the draft, and analyze the best 2012 NFL draft prospect fits for Tennessee's roster.

Tracking Free-Agent Signings, Re-Signings and Roster Moves

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    April 13: Dave Ball re-signs on a one-year deal.Ball's been with the team for four years and is a key player in the DE rotation.

    April 4: Leger Douzable, DE and DT formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, signs. Douzable's another addition to the defensive line who has the flexibility, if not the skill set, of James Jones who signed with the Seahawks.

    April 2: Special teams captain Tim Shaw re-signs for three years. The Titans bring back both backup linebacker/special teams aces in Shaw and Patrick Bailey.

    March 20: Adam Caplan is reporting that the Titans have signed Kamerion Wimbley a 5-year, $35 million dollar deal.

    March 15: John Clayton of ESPN is reporting that the Titans have signed former Vikings G Steve Hutchinson.

    March 13: According to Titans beat writer John Glennon, Fernando Velasco and Malcolm Sheppard signed their exclusive-rights free agent deals with the team.

    March 13: According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms with safety Jordan Babineaux and linebacker Patrick Bailey.

    March 5: Tennessean is reporting that safety Michael Griffin will get the Titans Franchise Tag. His contract will be worth around $6.2 million dollars next season.

    February 18: The Tennessee Titans signed DT Lamar Divens, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to a one-year deal. The Bucs wanted to re-sign Divens but he decided to sign with his hometown team. Divens played college ball at Vanderbilt and Tennessee State. At best he's a depth guy and at worst he's a camp body.

    He is eligible for the practice squad.

    February 11: The Tennessee Titans re-signed WR Lavelle Hawkins to a 3-year, $7.2 million contract. In his fourth year, Hawkins set a career high with 47 catches. With Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Jared Cook and Damian Williams ahead of him in the pecking order, this is a deal of modest excitement.  

    February 9: The Tennessee Titans re-signed OT Michael Otto two a two-year, $3.2 million contract. Otto's a seventh-round pick in 2007 with 41 career appearances and two starts, one at RT last year for the injured David Stewart. 

    Otto will remain the team's "swing" tackle. He's played as a third tackle in short-yardage packages and even got a pass target last season. 

    January 14: The Tennessee Titans re-signed TE Craig Stevens to a four-year, $15 million contract. The pass-catching tight end for the Titans remains Jared Cook, who's in the last year of his rookie deal. Stevens is the starter because he blocks. 

    While Craig Stevens looks like the slow, blocking tight end, he has surprising speed and can make plays downfield. He caught passes of 48, 31, and 25 yards last year.

    He scored a touchdown against the Browns.



Salary Cap Status

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    Titans' 2012 Cap Room

    According to Sportrac, your one-stop shop for professional sports contracts,the Titans currently have approximately $90 million worth of contracts that will count against the 2012 NFL salary cap. It's estimated that the salary cap number for 2012 will be $125 million.

    Salary cap numbers are a little fuzzy.Complete contract details aren't always published, including items like roster bonuses.

    The team has about a dozen players under "futures" contracts which gives the players a shot to make the roster although they rarely do, The Titans will have to sign draft picks as well.

    After the Griffin franchise tag is applied, the team has about $29 million to play with. I know, $29 million isn't what it used to be. 

    Problematic Cap Hits

    One thing is sure for 2012: The Titans aren't cutting Chris Johnson, so his cap hit of around $11 is staying on the books.

    Matt Hasselbeck's $7,833,333 figure is somewhat high but not a killer for a starting veteran QB. 

    The first number that causes me pause is Eugene Amano's $4,630,000. The Titans signed him to an extension to play center, a position that he'd never started in his career, before the 2010 season. He's not playing like a Pro Bowl-level center.

    Will Witherspoon's in the final year of his contract, and his $3,500,000 cap hit is high. I don't expect any kind of restructuring as he'll play it out and most likely find a new address for 2013. 

    Even if it doesn't save the team a penny, dumping Daniel Graham's $2,666,667 cap figure would be sweet.

    Shaun Smith ($2,000,000) was supposed to solidify the defensive line. His playing time decreased as the season continued and it wouldn't be surprising if he's cut.

    Overall, the Titans don't have a bunch of killer contracts that are going to hurt the bottom line.

    Value Contracts

    The upside is that Kenny Britt's under contract for a $1,563,002 figure this season. The bad news is if he returns to his pre-ACL tear form, he's going to want an extension next offseason.

    Even at their high current numbers, having two bookend offensive tackles like Michael Roos and David Stewart locked down is a bargain.  

    Young defensive stalwarts like Jason McCourty ($587,454), Alterraun Verner ($672,000), Colin McCarthy ($578,750), Akeem Ayers ($1,118,932), Karl Klug ($514,000) and Jurrell Casey ($643,750) for cheap means that the team could afford one big contract in free agency.

    Other Major Cap Questions

    The current salary figure doesn't include two starters in the secondary and one on the offensive line.

    With Michael Griffin getting the franchise tag, it's a foregone conclusion that Cortland Finnegan is gone. The Titans are going to give one of their younger cornerbacks a shot or they're going to have to replenish via free agency or the draft.

Last Year's Problem Spots

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    Before the 2011 season began, most prognosticators thought the Titans would be lucky to repeat their 6-10 record from 2010.

    Finishing with a winning record was impressive with a new coaching staff and quarterbacks who had a month to learn the system. The record for 2012 starts at 0-0 no matter what happened last year.

    The offense was unbalanced.

    The passing results were 8th in pass attempts, 12th in passing yards, 11th in touchdowns, and 12th in fewest interceptions thrown. That's one way of saying that this wasn't Jeff Fisher's offense. The running game was impotent, finishing 30th in attempts, 31st in yards, 26th in touchdowns and 29th in yards per attempt. 

    The shuffled defense was a bend but don't break unit, giving up the 26th most pass attempts but ranking 5th in net yards per attempt.

    The run D was bottom ten in rush attempts given up, rushing yards, and yards per attempt. They were also 31st in sacks. 

    It's close to a sure thing that the Titans will take a defensive player with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    Offense

    The QB spot isn't going to be a problem, but it will be the most interesting training camp battle.

    Matt Hasselbeck started all 16 games last year, the first time he's done so since the 2007 season.

    He did not finish them all however, and Jake Locker looked good in relief. General Manager Ruston Webster and Head Coach Mike Munchak agree that there's going to be an open competition for the starting job. The interior offensive line is the real problem area on the offense.

    Interior Offensive Line

    Going into the 2010 season, the Tennessee Titans front office signed Eugene Amano to a five-year extension.

    He had been the team's starting right guard for the past two years, so when he lined up at center in training camp, it was a big surprise. He's been the team's starting center for the past two years, and the run game has deteriorated in that time period.

    Right guard Jake Scott is a free agent and is unlikely to be re-signed.

    Left guard Leroy Harris signed a two-year extension last summer and will start 2012 to the left of Amano. 

    Seeing as Amano has played center and guard in his eight-year career, the team could sign either a center or a guard in free agency or the draft.

    It's unlikely that the new starter is already on the roster.

    Defense

    Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray enters his first full offseason with an opportunity to make major changes.

    The team could have as many as three new starters in the defensive backfield, and the defensive line and linebackers could use some reinforcements.

    Defensive End

    While players make a full recovery from major knee injuries as a routine, it's still a tough transition that first year back. The Titans expected a two-way defensive end when they selected Derrick Morgan with the 16th pick of the 2010 draft.

    Morgan tore his ACL in the first month of the season.

    Hopes were high that he would make a full recovery in time for 2011. He almost had as many sacks in four 2010 games (1.5) than in 15 2011 games (2.5), including 10 starts. 

    Even without a recovery for Morgan, the front office believed in a breakout from young defensive ends William Hayes and Jacob Ford. Ford didn't make the opening-day roster, and Hayes was invisible.

    Former second-round pick Jason Jones played tackle and end, and never found his stride. Veteran Dave Ball will be back on the team, and should be a rotational player.

    It hasn't been the Titan Way to pick up expensive free agents, but Mario Williams is a possibility. If not, a lower-tier guy along with an early draft pick is probable.

    Linebacker

    The good news is Akeem Ayers came in at strongside linebacker and started all 16 games.

    Colin McCarthy replaced an injured Barrett Ruud and was a leader from the start, including winning NFL Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against the Bills.

    Both will start in 2012. The third starter is veteran Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon's in the final year of a three-year deal.

    He'll be elsewhere in 2013, so the team needs to consider drafting his replacement this year unless they're going to upgrade via free agency.

    Cornerback

    If it weren't for free agency, this position would be a strength. Last year's one-day holdout and negotiations so far lead to one conclusion.

    Cortland Finnegan is leaving.

    The 2011 team lacked veteran leadership, and another player who wore the captain's C might be gone.  Finnegan played outside on early downs and covered the slot on obvious passing downs. Jason McCourty and Anterraun Verner have started on the outside. The team's going to need a young player like Chris Hawkins or Tommie Campbell to take over as the nickel cornerback.

    Finnegan's looking for Jonathan Joseph money, which would be about five years and $50 million. The Titans have offered four years and $28 million. The franchise tag is no longer an option.

    Safety

    Other than Finnegan, the other free agent who will be tough to replace is Michael Griffin. Griffin was an inconsistent presence in the back end last season. He seemed unwilling to make big tackles and was not an asset in coverage.

    Griffin has been locked down for at least one more year. That gives the team one starter from 2011 remaining on the roster.

    Chris Hope's contract is up, and the six-year Titan will not return. He missed five games in his first five years with the team, and started only two games last season.

    Jordan Babineaux started 14 games and is likely to re-sign with the team.

    Contract talks are underway.

Listing the Titans' 2012 Free Agents

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    Spotrac lists the following Titans players as unrestricted free agents (UFAs), meaning unless the Titans negotiate a deal in advance of free agency's start date, any NFL team has the ability to offer these players a contract:

    Ken Amato, LS

    Donnie Avery, WR

    Jordan Babineaux, SS Update: According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms with safety Jordan Babineaux.

    Patrick Bailey, LB  Update: According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms with linebacker Patrick Bailey.

    Dave Ball, DE

    Cortland Finnegan, CB Update: Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports via his Twitter that the Rams have a deal in place that is reportedly worth about $10 million a season. Adam Schefter of ESPN Tweets that the deal is worth $50 million for five-years.

    Michael Griffin, FS: Update: Tennessean is reporting that Michael Griffin will get the Titans Franchise Tag. His contract will be worth around $6.2 million dollars next season.

    Ahmard Hall, GB

    William Hayes, DE

    Chris Hope, SS

    Barrett Ruud, LB

    Jake Scott, G

    Tim Shaw, LB

    The following players are listed as exclusive rights restricted free agents (eRFAs), meaning that the Titans have the right to offer each player a veteran minimum contract.

    Marques Douglas, DE

    Malcolm Sheppard, DT: Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Sheppard signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.

    Fernando Velasco, G Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Velasco signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.

Determining Contract Value and Worth for Every Tennessee Free Agent

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    There are two key free agents for the Titans who are about to make a lot of money.

    Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin are going to get a ton of interest.

    The rest of the free agents will be lucky to get a starting role, and a few cases, lucky to pull an NFL paycheck next season. 

    The following is a list of estimated salaries for each Titan free agent (values calculated at annual amounts):

    Ken Amato: $1.4 million

    Amato's been the Titans' long snapper for nine seasons. He's 34 and should have a few more good years at the position. 

    Donnie Avery: $700,000

    Avery made a minimal impact in 2011 with the Titans, and the best he can hope for is another shot to catch on with a different team.

    The salary reflects the minimum veteran for a player with his experience level.

    Patrick Bailey:  Update:  According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms linebacker Patrick Bailey.

    Jordan Babineaux: Update: According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms with safety Jordan Babineaux.

    Dave Ball: $1.5 million

    Ball has 19 combined starts in the past two years. Even though the team continues to draft and sign additional players, Ball's going to be part of the rotation. 

    Cortland Finnegan: Update: Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports via his Twitter that the Rams have a deal in place that is reportedly worth about $10 million a season. Adam Schefter of ESPN Tweets that the deal is worth $50 million for five-years.

    Michael Griffin: Update: ennessean is reporting that safety Michael Griffin will get the Titans Franchise Tag. His contract will be worth around $6.2 million dollars next season.

    Ahmard Hall: $825,000

    Hall entered the NFL at age 27, and he will turn 33 during this season. That's high for a fullback. If he can squeeze one more year out of his NFL career, it's going to be at the veteran minimum.

    William Hayes: $1 million

    The fifth-year defensive end out of Winston-Salem State hasn't been able to beat his second-year numbers of four sacks and 30 total tackles.

    He'll get a shot as a backup/rotational defensive end with an outside shot at starting.

    Chris Hope: $3 million

    Hope has a lot to prove after missing 14 games last year. If he signs, the deal's going to have to be heavily incentive-based with a shot to start. 

    Jason Jones: $3 million

    Jason Jones may be a man without a position. He switched between defensive end and defensive tackle last year. He wasn't the second coming of Justin Tuck.

    Jones has the ability to make plays and penetrate from the defensive tackle spot, and that's his ideal position.

    Barrett Ruud: $4 million

    Ruud signed a one-year deal with the Titans last year in hopes that he would earn an extension. After missing time with a groin injury, Ruud recently had shoulder surgery.

    He's going to need to sign a one-year "prove it" deal to get one more shot at a big payday.

    Jake Scott: $4 million

    After completing a four-year, $19.5 million contract with the Titans, Jake Scott is a free agent. He's started every game at right guard for the past seven seasons. He's not considered elite at his position.

    For a guy you can plug in at guard and not worry about injuries, $4 million might seem a little light. 

    Tim Shaw: $1.5 million

    Shaw has been a backup linebacker and star special teams player for the past two years. The Titans are already in talks with Shaw's agent about an extension. 

    Marques Douglas: $1.5 million

    Douglas is a veteran who can help in the defensive line rotation and isn't going to get more than a moderate contract for 2012.

    Malcolm Sheppard: $540,000

    Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Sheppard signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.

    Fernando Velasco: $540,000

    Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Velasco signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.

Projecting Which Free Agents the Titans Will Re-Sign, Which Will Walk

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    Every year, the Titans have to decide who to keep and who to re-sign.

    Cortland Finnegan is the biggest name with the biggest associated salary number while Michael Griffin's going to require a sizeable financial commitment to stay with the team.

    All of the remaining free agents play important roles for the team but none more critical than Finnegan and Griffin. 

    Ken Amato: Re-signed

    The Titans did add Jake Ingram to the roster on a futures contract.

    While the team could save a few bucks by signing an inexperienced player, it's worth the relatively paltry sum to keep one of the key special teams guys.

    Estimated contract: One year, $1.4 million

    Donnie Avery: Released

    Avery made the roster when Kenny Britt was injured. He was inactive almost every week of the season.  He has no place in the 2012 roster.

    Patrick Bailey: Patrick Bailey:  Update:  According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms linebacker Patrick Bailey.


    Jordan Babineaux: Update: According to Titans beat writer Terry McCormick, the Titans have agreed to terms with safety Jordan Babineaux.

    Dave Ball: Re-signed

    For whatever it's worth, Ball has 11 sacks in the past two years and his veteran presence is too much to pass up. He'll stay with the team for another season.

    Estimated contract: One year, $1.5 million

    Cortland Finnegan: Update: Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports via his Twitter that the Rams have a deal in place that is reportedly worth about $10 million a season. Adam Schefter of ESPN Tweets that the deal is worth $50 million for five-years.

    Michael Griffin: Update: Tennessean is reporting that safety Michael Griffin will get the Titans Franchise Tag. His contract will be worth around $6.2 million dollars next season.

    Ahmard Hall: Released/retired

    A 32-year-old fullback, even at the veteran minimum, isn't going to help the team. Hall was suspended for four games for taking a stimulant to stay awake on a long car trip.

    The play at fullback was nap-worthy last year.

    A team that passes 60% of the time has the fullback on the sidelines a lot. The Titans will continue to employ a fullback, but it's not going to be Hall.

    William Hayes: Re-signed

    If he comes cheap, and he will because he hasn't done much in two years, Hayes will stay with the team.

    Hayes started 11 games in 2009, had four sacks and seemed like a mid-round draft pick on the rise. In the past two seasons he has one start and three sacks.

    He'll get one more shot to prove himself.

    Estimated contract: $1 million

    Chris Hope: Released

    Chris Hope is a rarity, a big-money defensive free agent who earned his contract. He completed his six years with the team and was a leader, including a trip to the 2008 Pro Bowl.

    Injuries cut short his 2011 season and this gives the franchise an opportunity to cut ties as his contract is over. Hope's going to have to earn a starting job in another city. 

    Jason Jones: Re-signed

    The Titans need players on the defensive line that are going to cause headaches to offensive line coaches. Jones can be that guy.

    It makes no sense to let him go, since his production has been pedestrian and he's not going to demand top dollar. 

    Estimated contract: 2 years, $5 million

    Barrett Ruud: Released

    The Titans get to bid adieu to another high-priced veteran in Ruud.  The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer signed for $750,000 more than previous MLB Stephen Tulloch got in Detroit.  

    Tulloch's going to get an eight-figure contract this offseason. Ruud will be lucky to get a shot at a starting job. 

    Jake Scott: Released

    The Titans feel they can do better, and cheaper, than Scott.

    Like Hope, Scott's contract is up. Scott did what the team signed him to do, start every game at right guard  and that's what he did. A big need for the Titans is a road-grader guard, or an upgrade at center that shifts Eugene Amano to the position.

    Tim Shaw: Re-signed

    Shaw's representatives and the Titans are already talking contract extension.

    He's listed as a linebacker but is pretty much a special teams ace. 

    Estimated contract: 1 year, $1.5 million

    Marques Douglas: Released

    Douglas joined the team last year in mid-season, when his veteran contract wasn't guaranteed.

    Malcolm Sheppard: Re-signed

    Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Sheppard signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.  

    Fernando Velasco: Re-signed

    Update: According to beat writer John Glennon, Velasco signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal with the team.  


Available Cap Space After Re-Siginings

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    Available Cap Space (projected): $15 million

    With an estimated 2012 cap of $125 million, of which the Titans had spent approximately $90 million before re-signing their own free agents, The Titans have about $35 million to spend in free agency. 

    The free-agent re-signings in the previous page would cost the Titans approximately $14 million against the cap in 2012.

    This is an average, without front- or back-loading the contracts.

    The Titans have $15 million left to spend on the draft and free agency.

    What to Expect

    The Titans don't have the history nor the financial means to sign a premium free agent. It's not what they do, with rare exceptions.

    Roster holes are going to be filled by upcoming youngsters, a mid-level free agent, or through the draft. 

Biggest Needs After Re-Signings

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    Even with the Titans signing a large number of their own free agents to extended contracts, the team still will have holes heading into free agency and the 2012 NFL draft.

    Offense

    Interior Offensive Line

    There are backup interior offensive linemen all over the place on the Titans' roster, but they still need a starting right guard. It would be preferable if he could be a stud in run blocking. 

    Defense

    Defensive End

    The fan base needs more than to bring back lot of the unproductive members of the 2011 defensive end rotation.

    There is a critical need for a player who can consistently generate pressure on the quarterback, as well as hold down the edge on run plays. 

    Linebacker

    Will Witherspoon's replacement needs to arrive in free agency or the draft. 

    Cornerback

    Finnegan's gone. The starters are on the roster, but depth is painfully shallow. If the team depends on second-year players Chris Hawkins and Tommie Campbell to take a lot of snaps, offenses are going to be on the field a ton.

    Safety

    Getting Babineaux back is very important. Keeping Griffin doesn't mean that the team will avoid picking up another safety, as the safeties on the roster at the moment haven't shown the ability to be worthy of an NFL roster spot, let alone a starting gig.

Identifying Potential Free Agents the Titans Could Sign

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    After signing some of their own free agents, the Titans will have a little money to burn. When the team signs a high-priced free agent, the result is usually more David Givens than Chris Hope.

    The team's mantra is to wait out the first wave of free agency and sign a few lower priced guys. 

    Wins in 2011 free agency include Matt Hasselbeck and Jordan Babineaux, while players like Daniel Graham, Shaun Smith, Barrett Ruud and Kevin Curtis were non-factors or didn't even make the opening day roster. 

    Here are the free agents at positions of need the Titans could take a look at this offseason:

    Offense

    Offensive guard/center

    March 15: John Clayton of ESPN is reporting that the Titans have signed former Vikings G Steve Hutchinson.

    The big names are Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs.

    Nicks wants to get more money than fellow Saint guard Jahri Evans. Evans signed a seven-year, $56.7 million contract two years ago. It's doubtful that the Saints will allocate more than $16 million to the guard position.

    The Ravens are trying to re-sign Grubbs despite their own salary cap issues. 

    Even if these players do not sign with their current teams, the Titans are not getting into a bidding war.

    They might look at a cheaper option like Philadelphia's Evan Mathis. 

    If the Titans decide to shift Eugene Amano to guard and sign a center, free agents include Nick Hardwick, Scott Wells, and Chris Myers.

    Older players like Matt Birk and Jeff Saturday could be available at a cheaper rate. 

    Defensive end

    March 20: Adam Caplan is reporting that the Titans have signed Kamerion Wimbley a 5-year, $35 million dollar deal.

    The main prizes are Robert Mathis and Mario Williams. Both players could command up to $12 million a year.

    Update: Robert Mathis signed a contract extension with the Colts on March 5.

    John Abraham could be leaving Atlanta, and the soon to be 34-year-old wants big bucks.

    Most of the other "big" names are 3-4 ends who wouldn't fit the Titans' scheme.

    Cornerback

    If the Titans aren't going to make a serious run at Cortland Finnegan, and the latest reports say that contract talks have stalled, it's hard to imagine that they'd sign a comparable player.

    Brandon Carr's going to get top money, and the latest word is that the Cowboys are going to make a serious run. 

    The Falcons are trying to hold onto Brent Grimes, and the franchise tag is a possibility. 

    Update: Brent Grimes has been franchised by the Falcons.

    Other options include Terrell Thomas, coming off an ACL tear that ended his 2011 season before it started, Tracy Porter of the Saints, a team that has a lot of free agents to consider, and Carlos Rogers, considered a first-round bust before performing well in San Francisco last fall.

    Safety

    Michael Griffin has been franchised, so need at safety isn't as major as it was yesterday. 

Projecting Contract Values for Titans' Free-Agent Targets

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    When it comes to the top free agents, their original teams will find the cap room or a team with much more cap room than the Titans will take the plunge.

    Don't forget last year's free agent binge by the Eagles, leading to Vince Young's infamous "dream team" comments and a disappointing season.

    Below are projected contracts for players the Titans could snag in free agency:

    G Evan Mathis: Four years, $20 million

    Yes, the deal looks similar to the one that Jake Scott just completed. Mathis started 15 games for the Eagles last year after 22 starts in his first six years in the league. 

    If the Titans can pick up the veteran who found his stride at age 30, the interior offensive line woes may be solved.

    CB Terrell Thomas: Four years, $22 million

    This is a bit of a gamble, with Thomas coming off an ACL tear. After using a first-round pick on Prince Amukamura last year, the team may feel like they're set at the position.

    After all, they did win a Super Bowl. 

    The Titans have a lot of confidence in Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner.

    Having three starter-quality cornerbacks makes sense with the team playing so much nickel. 

Analyzing Titans' Draft Strategy, Positions of Need

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    With free agency helping to shore up some of the weak spots, the Titans have more options in the 2012 NFL Draft. It's still going to be a defense-focused draft. 

    Despite adding Evan Mathis, finding a replacement for Eugene Amano or Leroy Harris, who's a free agent next year, would make sense.

    The tackle position is set with Roos and Stewart, and versatile backup Mike Otto. 

    The wide receiver position could use an upgrade.

    Kenny Britt's coming off an injury. Nate Washington had a career year but hasn't been consistent in his two previous seasons. Lavelle Hawkins is an uninspiring WR4 who makes spectacular plays in the preseason. Damian Williams hasn't broken out yet and Marc Mariani to date has only made an impression in the return game. 

    Defensive line is a position of need. Quarterbacks can't be throwing the ball at will again next year, and the first level needs to be tougher against the run. 

    At safety, the team needs to find a starter. It's not a deep draft class, so the team's going to need to pick up a guy in the first or second rounds.

    At cornerback, depth wouldn't hurt. 

    Other than special teams guys, there isn't much depth at linebacker.

    The Titans could pick up a weakside guy and some depth, as Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers are no sure things to improve on their rookie production. 

Draft Names to Keep an Eye on

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    Offensive Guard/Center

    If the Titans want to start big in the first round, they can look at Peter Konz of Wisconsin.

    Two guys would would be great mid-round picks would be Philip Blake of Baylor and Quentin Saulsberry of Mississippi State. Both players started at multiple positions on the offensive line in college and would fit in as backups.

    Cordy Glenn is a first-round-worthy offensive guard.

    Players who could go in the second day include Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler and Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu. 

    Wide Receiver

    The draft is full of speedy slot receiver types, and one of them is Joe Adams of Arkansas. Sure, scouting on youtube fails to give you a full picture of a player, but look at that speed.  

    Wait until the third or fourth round and a player like Juron Criner or Brian Quick could be available. 

    Defensive End

    There are two positions that most mocks give to the Titans in the first round.

    One's defensive end and the other will come up shortly. In the first round, Melvin Ingram or Whitney Mercilus could make an instant impact. Malik Jackson, a converted defensive tackle or Cam Johnson, with 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE experience, are players who might be the pick in the second or third rounds. 

    Defensive Tackle

    Defensive line is a spot that requires a rotation of players.

    Dontari Poe had a fantastic Combine and might not make it to pick #20.  Josh Chapman in the second may fit better as a nose tackle. The idea of an immovable object at defensive tackle is appealing. He did have ACL surgery in January. 

    Linebacker

    This isn't a major need, but grabbing an outside linebacker in the later rounds is a sound move. Players who could be available in the fourth to fifth round include Sammy Brown of Houston, Josh Kaddu of Oregon, Tyler Nielsen of Iowa and Emmanuel Acho of Texas.

    Safety

    Mark Barron of Alabama had double hernia surgery, otherwise he might not get to the Titans' pick in the first round.

    Second-round options include the beastly George Iloka of Boise State, Harrison Smith of Notre Dame, Antonio Allen of South Carolina and Markelle Martin of Oklahoma State.