The Titans today made official a move pretty much everyone expected, releasing longtime starting tackle David Stewart.
A fourth round pick out of Mississippi State in 2005, Stewart stepped into the starting lineup early in the 2006 season at right tackle as part of a general offensive line shuffling and never looked back. He would start 104 of the next 106 games for the Titans at the position, providing consistent physical play and earning a lucrative extension along the way. He helped pave the way for the incredible success Chris Johnson had running right in his 2000 yard season in 2009.
Stewart's streak of never missing more than a game in a season ended in 2012 with a broken leg suffered against the Houston Texans in Week 13. That kept him out of most offseason work and that and other injuries caused him to practice only irregularly in 2013, slowing the development of a rebuilt offensive line. He would manage to start 12 games, but as I noted in the tackle positional analysis was not the same player he had been in previous years. Set to turn 32 before the start of the 2014 regular season, there was litlte chance of him seeing his scheduled $6.4 million salary. The only question now is whether he opts to try to continue to play elsewhere or just retires, and people who might know indicate retirement is likely.
The Titans do not have an obvious replacement starter at right tackle on the roster. I profiled some potential candidates before free agency began, some of whom are even still available. Given the contracts handed out thus far, it would not surprise me to see the Titans wait for things to shake out a little bit and enter training camp without a starter set in stone at right tackle.