- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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A combine rewind on what we heard from the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis…
The Titans could be active early in free agency: This is a team that has largely sat back in free agency and let the early market sift out before getting involved. But both coach Mike Munchak and general manager Ruston Webster said at Lucas Oil Stadium that they expect to be negotiating with at least one free agent during the three-day period where conversations are allowed before free agency opens.
No cuts on the immediate horizon: The Titans have $18.021 million in salary-cap room, so nothing is pressing in terms of salary-cap cuts. But general manager Webster said the team would trim salaries as it makes additions through free agency and the draft. Presumptive translation -- when the Titans get a guard, they can part with either Steve Hutchinson (due a $4.75 million base, he would cost $3 million in dead money cap hit) or guard/center Eugene Amano (due a $3.935 million base, but they’d save only about $1 million by cutting him). The other could be gone post draft.
The draft is deep at the right spots for this team: Before the Titans signed veteran safety George Wilson, Webster talked about how all three of the team’s biggest needs -- guard, safety and defensive end -- are deep in this pool of prospects. I pushed to see if Webster would put the three in order and he ranked guard and safety as the top two. He didn’t talk about the depth at kicker, but said if the Titans lose Rob Bironas as a free agent, Tennessee would consider drafting one. Three seem to be ranked as draftable.
The Titans will remain a team capable of using two-back sets: Quinn Johnson is a free agent to-be. His size -- 6-foot-1, 263-pounds -- fit the mold former offensive coordinator Chris Palmer wanted. We don’t know if he’s the same sort of fit for what Dowell Loggains intends to do while in the job. But Munchak said the Titans will carry a fullback and that Chris Johnson runs better in certain circumstances with one and in other circumstances without one. Loggains and new running back coach Sylvester Croom will talk with CJ about some play-by-play preferences on that.
Tennessee seeks mature additions: Webster says out of the info overload he looks for buzz words that relate to maturity. He wants to be sure the Titans wind up with guys who can handle the combination of free time and big money that they will wind up with after they are drafted. Everyone is coached to say the right things and give the right indications as they talk with scouts, coaches and executives. So there is work to sift out who’s really equipped to handle things and who is not.