It’s just over a week until the start of the NFL’s free agency period, and this much is certain: The Tennessee Titans have money to spend.
Even after deals that brought back the likes of tight end Craig Stevens and wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, the Titans still have somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million between their cumulative salary figure and the league’s salary cap.
It would be much easier for general manager Ruston Webster and his staff to know what to do with all that money if they actually knew what they already were paying for.
Just imagine back-to-school shopping on a budget if you had no idea whether or not your child’s shoes fit or if his or her shirts were appropriate for school. That’s the sort of situation that confronts the Titans at the moment.
Just look at their most pressing issues from the 2011 season. On offense, their rushing attack fell well short of expectations. On defense, their ability to rush the passer was not what has become customary around here.
There is plenty of money tied up in running back Chris Johnson, and he is all but guaranteed a roster spot for the foreseeable future. Is he still the guy capable of going the distance at any time and gaining 2,000 yards in a season? Or has all the money he got a year ago spoiled him and robbed him of his passion for the game?
If anyone truly knew the answer, it would be clear whether or not Tennessee ought to sign someone to take some of the load off Johnson or whether the team is free to focus its attention elsewhere.
Then again, Johnson’s struggles might have had absolutely nothing to do with him. Maybe it was the offensive line, the one that not long ago was a ferocious front with an All-Pro, Michael Roos, on one side and a mountain of bad attitude, David Stewart, on the other.
Roos and Stewart are still there, but are they still those guys? Or do the Titans need to look for some new guys, either at those spots or the three interior positions?
On the other side, Derrick Morgan looks like the sort who has the ability to get to the quarterback over and over again, not to mention a penchant for making things happen once he does. Morgan seemingly has battled as many injuries as he has opposing tackles in his two NFL seasons, which raises the question of whether or not he can stay healthy and productive throughout an entire season.
Would you want to bet your job on that one way or the other? Some folks in the Titans front office might do exactly that.
And while we’re talking about injuries, what to do about Kenny Britt?
He’s the closest thing to a game-breaker the franchise has had in a wide receiver during its time in Middle Tennessee. Yet he continues to break down just when he looks ready to realize his enormous potential.
Do the Titans hedge their bets in regard to him and add a notable player or two at that position? Or do they wager that he’s bound to stay healthy sooner or later and it might as well be sooner?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions, which means there are no obvious solutions to the Titans’ needs on the free agent market.
The Titans are going to shop, and they’re going to spend. Some of their needs are even obvious.
Will they get everything they need? Tough to say. After all, no one can be sure what exactly they have.