After signing 15 undrafted free agents despite only having 12 roster spots after selecting eight players in the draft, the Titans needed to clear some roster space. And they did, releasing wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins and waiving wide receiver Michael Calvin and safety Suaesi Tuimaunei.
Obviously Hawkins is the biggest name of that trio. The Cal product was a fourth round pick in 2008 who struggled to find consistent playing time his first three years in the league, totaling only 19 catches and never more than seven in a season. He finally found a niche in 2011, as a slot receiver in new offensive coordinator's Chris Palmer run-and-shoot-inspired offense, and totaled 47 catches for 470 yards. The Titans were impressed enough by this to hand him a three year contract in January for $7.5 million, including a $2 million signing bonus, then barely used him. Drafting Kendall Wright and a return to health (more or less) by Kenny Britt relegated him to the sidelines. Hawkins finished the season playing in only 51 offensive snaps over seven games and had a mere 5 catches for 62 yards. As he himself recognized, it seemed very unlikely the Titans would pay Hawkins' scheduled $1.9 million salary for a receiver whom they played that little the prior season, and I always considered his release a matter of when rather than if.
Of the other players released, Michael Calvin was another Cal wideout. He joined the Titans on a futures contract in January after spending time last year as a rookie undrafted free agent with the Falcons. Suaesi Tuimaunei joined the Titans' practice squad last December when they elevated tight end Brandon Barden to the 53-man roster to fill Jared Cook's spot. He signed a futures contract at the end of December and was part of a crowded and murky bottom of the safety depth chart. Pending the announcement of the undrafted free agents, the Titans have nine receivers and eight safeties.
Hawkins' release creates $1.33 million in dead money, all of which hits the 2013 cap. The loss of his salary, though, increases the Titans' available cap room to about $7.0 million from $6.3 million. The cap hits from the Calvin and Tuimaunei releases are negligibile. The Titans should have about $4.4 million in salary cap space after signing their draft picks.