Notes on the Titans

More in-depth looks at Dexter McCluster, running back, and the other new Titans are coming, eventually, as are more draft thoughts, but in the meantime here are the Titans-related things that have caught my eye recently:

1.Kamerion Wimbley recently renegotiated his contract. Of the two recent contract restructure (I’ll get to the second next), his is the bigger deal because he had larger base salaries but also because of that $9 million signing bonus the Titans gave him when they signed him as a free agent. That meant cutting him would have resulted in a significant dead money hit (though still net cap savings). Heck, between a partially guaranteed salary and that prorated signing bonus, the total cap hit from cutting him last year was less than the total cap hit from keeping him. That sort of issue is why a number of teams now generally avoid handing out massive signing bonuses. The Titans this offseason didn’t hand out any, but nor did they sign players to any deals as large as Wimbley’s or Michael Griffin’s or Andy Levitre’s or Jason McCourty’s or CJ’s, to name their $9 million-plus signing bonuses from recent years. Expect Wimbley to be around this season and probably next season as well.

One note on Wimbley, though: he has been noted, including by me, as likely a better fit for Ray Horton’s new defensive scheme, given his past experience playing outside linebacker. As I noted after the Titans signed him, though, the vast majority of his sack production with the Raiders in 2011 and Browns in 2009 and 2010 came with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, not as a standup pass rusher.

2. Craig Stevens also renegotiated his contract. Unlike Wimbley’s restructure, which is essentially a new three-year deal, reports are Stevens modified only his 2014 base salary, while his compensation for 2015, the final year of the extension he signed after the 2011 season, is unchanged. As I noted in the TE positional analysis, he’s 30 before the season begins, has a history of concussions, and never developed into the receiver I thought he might become. He’s a year-to-year proposition at this point. If the Titans want him around for 2015, they will talk about that next offseason. My tentative expectation is 2014 will be his last season with the Titans.

3. It is draft season, which means among other things there will be reports of the Titans being linked to players between visits and campus workouts. In the past, this has seemed like a pretty reliable guide to players the Titans were interested in, with it being seemingly mandatory for first- and second-round picks. While this is probably still a useful operating assumption, especially since Ruston Webster is still the general manager, I am at least keeping my mind open to the idea that Ken Whisenhunt will change this up.

4. This is definitely something I will be writing about in the next month as we approach the draft, but I am running in my mind what the Titans will do if the top edge rushers and generally elite prospects are off the board when the 11th pick comes up. There is no obvious answer in my mind, and what the Titans will do will be dictated of course by their specific grades and what they think of particular prospects and how they fit into their conception of what they want their team to be. Right now I consider that a non-answer answer, which is why I am still trying to think it through (and trying to decide if trying to think it through is a useful exercise, given I don’t think like Webster and Whisenhunt do).