According to Spotrac.com, the Tennessee Titans have approximately $48 million in cap space for the 2020 offseason. With the estimated market value to retain free agents’ Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and Jack Conklin totaling up to be around $60 million annual salary, the team may need to make some cuts to sign everyone they want and also possibly try to add an impact free-agent edge rusher. The Titans could potentially add $18 million to $42 million (unlikely) in cap space if they wanted to. I have listed some potential candidates that the Titans could cut this offseason from most to least likely. I have also rated how likely I think they are to be cut on a scale from one (not likely to be cut) to ten (very likely to be cut).
Cap Savings: $4,037,500
When the Titans first signed Dion Lewis from the Patriots, it seemed like a fantastic idea. Lewis showed a ton of versatility in New England, being able to catch the ball out of the back and create his own yards with his elusiveness. Dion seemed like the perfect complement to Derrick Henry. However, he has not been able to recreate that same success in Nashville. In his three seasons with the Patriots, Lewis averaged 4.8 yards per carry, but with the Titans, he regressed to 3.5 yards per carry. Since the New England days, Lewis has pretty obviously lost some burst and agility that once made him effective.
The Titans will likely have to invest a significant amount of cap space into Derrick Henry (if they choose to re-sign him). It would not make financial sense to have so much money indebted to the running back position. As a result, it would make the most sense to cut Lewis and try to draft a rookie that can complement Henry in the backfield.
Cut Likelihood: 10/10
Cap Savings: $6,418,750
Delanie Walker has been one of the best free-agent signings in Titans’ history. Coming from the San Francisco 49ers, Walker helped cultivate a winning culture here in Tennessee. While up until 2017 it seemed like Delanie would never age, his durability has finally caught up to him. In the last two seasons, Walker has only played in eight games.
The argument for cutting Walker is actually less about him and more about the emergence in the tight end trio of Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, and Anthony Firkser. Jonnu is finally starting to develop into his pre-draft Delanie Walker comparisons. MyCole Pruitt has been an excellent run blocker. Firkser has shown some great route-running ability and made some key catches in the Titans playoff run. This trio has been able to replace Walker’s on-field production and would be much cheaper.
Although as a fan I would hate to see Delanie leave, logistically and financially, this move just makes too much sense.
Cut Likelihood: 9/10
Cap Savings: $2,000,000
Ryan Succop had a very odd season in 2019. Days away from the 2019 season opener, Succop was unexpectedly placed on injured reserve due to a setback in his knee injury. When he came back midway through the season, he was one for six on field-goal attempts before being placed back on IR. This is a major step down in his efficiency, as up until this season he had been a career 83.6% field goal kicker.
Meanwhile, the Titans replaced Succop with Greg Joseph, who was a perfect nine for nine on extra points and one for one on field-goal attempts. This will be a tough decision for the Titans, as they will have to determine if Succop’s struggle were due to his injury or true regression.
Cut Likelihood: 8/10
Cap Savings: $5,588,541
Although he has stayed relatively healthy throughout his career, Cameron Wake faced some injuries in 2019. Wake’s season was cut short as he was placed on IR at the end of November. However, before the injury, Wake was performing very efficiently. PFF graded him out with an 83.5, which was the highest for all Titans’ edge rushers. Despite only getting 2.5 sacks, he had 11 quarterback hits playing in only nine games on 195 snaps. In comparison, Harold Landry had nine sacks and 14 quarterback hits over 16 games and 952 snaps. Essentially, Wake was getting a quarterback hit for every 18 snaps he played, while Harold Landry was only getting one every 68 snaps.
In 2019, Wake was only playing in obvious passing downs with a lighter workload. At 38 years old, it may seem like it is time for Wake to retire, but he has specifically stated that he plans to return. Personally, I believe that if the Titans can sign one of the premiere edge rushers in free agency, they should let Cameron Wake go. If not, they should hold onto Wake and draft an edge rusher early in the draft.
Cut Likelihood: 6/10
Cap Savings: $7,000,000
By drafting Jeffery Simmons in 2019, the Titans created a clear plan for the future of the interior defensive line. Although DaQuan has been fantastic against the run, his production while rushing the passer has been minimal. While I do think DaQuan is a great player and does a lot of good things that do not show up on the stats, I also think the Titans need to get better at rushing the passer.
The Titans could potentially cut Jones in order to make room for an impact edge rusher. This could also lead to more playing time for Rookies’ Jeffery Simmon and Isaiah Mack, both of which I thought showed a ton of promise.
Cut Likelihood: 4/10
Cap Savings: $10,187,500
The case for cutting Jurrell Casey is similar to DaQuan Jones, except Casey is a much better player. I think this is pretty unlikely. Casey has been one of our best players on the team and a highly regarded leader in the locker room. I don’t foresee a dire financial situation that would cause the Titans to move on from Casey.
Cut Likelihood: 1/10
Cap Savings: $7,381,250
Butler really started to come on for the Titans in the second half of 2018 and into 2019 before his injury. His presence was sorely missed as the Titans pushed on into the playoffs. With Logan Ryan set to be a free agent, I just don’t see a scenario where Butler is cut. Why create a hole in the roster that you don’t have to?
Cut Likelihood: 1/10
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