As I did last offseason (and the year before), I decided it would be a useful macro-level overview of where the Titans stand as they head into free agency in terms of holes on the depth chart. For purposes of this post, I will be using a sort of hypothetical version of the depth chart based on what might have been if everybody was healthy.
Holes Filled Since the End of the Regular Season
RB-3: At least, I hope that's what they see Jackie Battle as.
SS-1: With the retention of Bernard Pollard, the hole that would have been listed here is now no longer present.
DE(b)-1: The other re-signing, Ropati Pitoitua.
I think the depth chart exercise is a useful one, but it is a much more complicated exercise with the sort of regime change the Titans are undergoing. That has not been an issue the previous couple years I've done this, since the Titans were keeping more or less the same basic personnel structure on both offense and defense. Pitoitua probably will still be a DE in Ray Horton's new front seven, and there are still seven front seven positions, but the player groups will not match precisely onto the new scheme. The problem is thinking of the holes that aren't on the depth chart but still exist. I'll list a sort of position here that I think exists as a whole, but it's worth keeping in mind the Titans may see other holes on the depth chart not apparent from looking at a depth chart. Oh, and like last year, I am including in my list of holes players I rate as likely cap cuts.
WRa-3: Damian Williams was a valuable fourth wide receiver. As I discussed in the WR positional analysis, Whisenhunt at least in Arizona preferred bigger wide receivers. D-Will could be back, but I do not expect it to happen. The Titans are also losing Kevin Walter, whom I am not listing separately and whom I do not expect back.
LT-2: Mike Otto is heading to free agency, which means the Titans could use another swing tackle. It is certainly not out of the question they could bring Otto back. He will be 31 when the 2014 season begins, though, and with a new staff and new offense, does it still make sense to bring him back? Either way, a hole to fill.
LG/RG-2: Chris Spencer is listed on the depth chart as the primary backup at both positions. He will be 32 when the 2014 season begins, but his ability to play all three interior line spots makes a return more likely.
C-2: Thank you for your service, Rob Turner. I think the Titans should be confident in Brian Schwenke as the starter going forward, so this is not a priority position. Still, I expect them to keep 9 offensive linemen, including two interior backups. They could keep a pure guard backup and a center/left guard player (like Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris were), but I think the ideal solution because of the 46-man limitation is to find a player you're comfortable filling in any of the three spots. C-3 Kevin Matthews is also a free agent, but the Titans will not be keeping three actual centers on the 53-man, so he is not counted separately.
RT-1: David Stewart is not coming back. At least some people at St. Thomas Sports Park like Byron Stingily more than I thought they would, but even so I doubt they just hand him the job and let him sink or swim. It could come in the draft, or it could come in free agency (more on this, I promise), but I strongly believe the Titans will add a player who could at least contend to start at right tackle this offseason.
TE/FB-2 (TEb-1): I still think Craig Stevens is a strong candidate to be a cap casualty. His departure would create the need for another tight end, unless Whisenhunt decides he is happy rolling with either 10 or 20 personnel if Delanie Walker goes down. He played a lot of 10 (one back, no TE, 4 WR) at times in Arizona.
WRb-2: Kenny Britt is gone. The question of what the Titans do at wide receiver depends on how confident they are in Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, and Justin Hunter, and their preferred personnel packages. If they plan to run a lot of two-RB or two-TE sets, they could make only a minor addition. If they plan on operating a lot out of three wide receiver sets (and 11 personnel is the NFL's most common look for almost every team these days), they will add somebody who can contribute, and the precise nature of that player tells us what they think of the top three.
QB-3: Rusty Smith was a fairly typical sixth round pick. Namely, he never did much productive on offense or defense. I will certainly have more to say about this going forward, but with a new offense I expect Jake Locker and his backup to get the lion's share of the offensive reps in the offseason, with only scraps available for Tyler Wilson and anybody else the Titans add. Given the uncertainty in Locker, I expect that backup to be Ryan Fitzpatrick. Given the uncertainty in Locker, I do not expect that backup to be somebody the Titans draft unless somebody falls to 11 they like more than other teams do.
RB-1: Bye, Chris Johnson. I expect a committee, with current RB-2 Shonn Greene a member of that and probably the nominal starter. The Titans will add a back they feel comfortable giving touches to, though.
DTa-2: Antonio Johnson is a free agent. There is where the aforementioned front seven numbers game gets tricky. Does a potential Mookie departure really create a hole like the official depth chart suggests it will? Unless Horton will be playing a lot more 4-3 than I think he will, I doubt it.
Rusher-X: This is the position not on the depth chart I see a need for, even if they see Kamerion Wimbley as a player to keep and who will play.
CBb-1: Alterraun Verner will be playing somewhere else in 2014. I suspect the Titans are relatively confident either Coty Sensabaugh or Blidi Wreh-Wilson can fill this vacancy. The big question becomes what they do in the slot. WIll Sensabaugh be Horton's type of nickel corner? That is the position where they could look to add somebody. Since it is a major role, that could be a non-bargain basement veteran or a reasonably high draft pick.
K: Just say no to paying above-average salary for below-average production and cut Rob Bironas. Add a player, preferably two, and let the better kicker win.
KR/PR-1: Leon Washington is a free agent, as is Marc Mariani. Bring them back. Heck, bring them both back. Bring one of them back and somebody else. Like kicker, a job you can probably fill reasonably capably for cheap. Like kicker, a job where not finding a reasonably capable filler can be heartburn-inducing.
Worth noting every year, but especially this year: There are a number of other positions not listed in the above the Titans could chose to address. That includes particularly off-the-ball linebacker (MLB and WLB in the current depth chart parlance) and other defensive front seven puzzle pieces to fit Horton's preferred mold, but those are unofficially the holes that need to be filled between free agency and the draft.