Monday, February 21, 2005

Tennessee Titans cutting 6 veteran players, maybe more

The Tennessee Titans announced that they are going to cut six of their most veteran and popular players: Derrick Mason, Fred Miller, Robert Holcombe, Joe Nedney, Kevin Carter, and Samari Rolle. This is the link to the Tennessean story: Titans Story . The economics of the NFL may have sealed the Titans’ fate for the 2005 season, but this decision should help the Titans in the long run. Here’s what the Titans are losing:

Derrick Mason, WR – $4.7 million cap hit – A 1000-yard receiver four years running, D-Mase has anchored the underwhelming Titans receiving corps. Mason has long been Steve McNair’s favorite target, but I’m not sure that Mason is irreplaceable. He has been a consistent, hard-working receiver that would probably be a second receiver on most teams. Titans need to rebuild this position through the draft, and Norm Chow will no doubt put a couple of them on his April 23 wish list.

Fred Miller, OT – $9.32 million – Good riddance, Fred Miller. Miller was flagged for three false starts in the 2001 Super Bowl against the Titans so someone decided that it would be a good idea to sign him as a free agent the following year. Miller, while a veteran lineman at an important position, is replaceable by several lineman that would be at half the cap hit or less. And he still has to average a false start a game. Draft – build – teach. This pickup was really the start of the Titans’ cap problems.

Robert Holcombe, FB – Not reported – It’s hard to dislike Robert Holcombe, who has been a steady presence in the Titans backfield. I think that his cap hit is comparatively small to his offensive brethren, but the fact is that the backfield blocker need not be a specialist’s role. Tight ends, second tailbacks, and the occasional linebacker can fill that role when needed so it’s best to jettison that roster spot.

Joe Nedney, K - $1.4 million – Zero points in the last two years on the roster. Granted, he’s been injured twice (on the same calendar day, no less) but the kicking game hasn’t been that bad the past two seasons and, well, every million counts.

Kevin Carter, DE - $13.97 million – I really, really, hate to see Kevin Carter not a Titan next year, so I’ll cross my fingers and see if they can magically turn his $14 million hit into $5 or $6 million with no future trouble. But I don’t think that’s how the cap works, so Tennessee will lose its defensive leader and most active member in the community. Many Titans are popular but none are so genuinely good as Carter, who gives a lot of time, money, and talent to charitable causes in the Nashville area. He’s got a lot left to offer a football team, but one can only hope when he retires he’ll come back to Tennessee.

Samari Rolle, CB - $9.81 million – Rolle is definitely one of the top 5 corners in the NFL and the best player in Tennessee’s secondary. He’s had some recent legal trouble but Samari’s mostly been a good citizen and popular player. I could easily give you 5 reasons to keep Rolle around, but for each of those, the Titans have two million to let him go. Unfortunate for the Titans to be in this mess, but this is the tough decision that needs to be made.

Like I said earlier, this should help the Titans in the long run. I hope that the Titans have learned from some of their free agent mistakes and instead strive to be a team like the Patriots, who use a system guided by their head coach and then find the right players to fit that system. Moreover, if the ideal player for that system is over-priced, then New England will find the best player for the value they are willing to pay. Those ideals make them good year after year. Let’s hope that Jeff Fisher and the Titans in 2006 will resemble Bill Belichick and the Pats today.

2 Comments:

Anonymous brian said...

Great breakdown. I've bookmarked you so don't disappoint.
-brian

12:32 PM  
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