In a move so inevitable it didn't occur to me to mention the possibility he'd make the team in yesterday's roster prediction, the Tennessee Titans on Thursday released veteran center Eugene Amano.
Amano, a 2004 7th round pick out of Southeast Missouri State, first cracked the lineup as a full-time starter at left guard in 2008 after impressing in relief when Kevin Mawae went down in 2007. He played left guard in 2008 and 2009 and shifted to center when Kevin Mawae retired. It was that offseason that the Titans, apparently deeply worried about the possibility of other teams' willingness to massively overpay an okay starting left guard who could also play center on a very thin free agent market, decided to preemptively massively overpay Amano, inking him to a five-year, $26.25 million deal. Amano then proceeded to play in 2010 and 2011 like an okay starting center before a torn triceps injury last August cost him the entire 2012 season. When Fernando Velasco played more or less adequately in his stead, the Titans apparently realized you didn't absolutely have to pay every single offensive line starter at least $3 million a year and Amano's release just became a matter of him being healthy enough he would be unlikely to pursue an injury settlement.
For his play at center in 2010 and 2011, Amano became a popular answer to the question "what's wrong with Chris Johnson," leading entirely too many fans to call for the return of Kevin Mawae, Pro Bowler. This was, in a word, absurd, and for a number of reasons.
First, Mawae's 2009 Pro Bowl trip in particular is one of the most egregious ones in the long and inglorious history of completely undeserved, on name recognition only, total joke trips to the Pro Bowl. Both of Vince Young's trips were significantly more worthy than Mawae's 2009 nod.
Second, as I noted at the time, Amano at center didn't change much when it came to the Titans' (in-)ability to run between the tackles. Rather, the Titans were bad between the tackles in 2009 and bad between the tackles again in 2010. It was just that nobody cared the Titans were bad between the tackles in 2009 because CJ did so much damage to the outside, particularly the right. It was only when he stopped doing damage on the edge that anybody really noticed and, well…
Third, ironically, Mawae's miserable play in 2009 in some ways actually helped the Titans; if CJ could avoid the defender who'd pushed him 3 yards into the backfield, that penetration sometimes created a free gap in the defensive scheme he could exploit, often on the cutback. Amano's anchor but lack of push instead led him to be blamed when replacing Mawae with him would have upgrade about every team's running game.
Anyway, here endeth the strange Titans career of Eugene Amano. His 2013 and 2014 salaries of $3.935 million and $4.1875 million come off the books. By releasing him after June 1, the Titans take a hit of $2.0675 million in dead money from his prorated bonus on the salary cap in both 2013 and 2014. The Titans went from $6.3 million in 2013 cap room to $9.7 million, though of course signing the remaining draft picks will eat into that somewhat.