The wide receiving corp for the Tennessee Titans is probably the position that is the most confusing. We have veteran talent in Nate Washington. We have a young playmaker in Kendall Wright. We have young, raw untapped talent in Justin Hunter. However, so many questions that were at the start of the 2014 season were never answered. Does Nate Washington have anything left in the tank? Why didn't the Titans coaching staff utilize Kendall Wright more? Is Justin Hunter a bust or can the coaching staff mold him into the game changer he has been touted to be?
All these questions must be answered before free agency makes any sense. So here goes...
I believe Nate Washington can still be an asset on the field and especially in the locker room. He had 647 yds on 40 catches with 2 TDs. He might choose to retire, but if the Titans want him back I believe he will choose to give it one more year. His 2014 cap number was $4.8 million. His 2014 number will need to be considerably less than that to keep him on the roster, and that is another obvious stumbling block keep him around. With all that said, barring retirement, I believe Washington will be on the Titans 2015 roster.
Kendall Wright is hard to figure. It appears that the coaching staff doesn't have him in the game plan. He is an exciting player that brings energy to the field every time he touches the ball. He had 715 yds on 57 catches with 4 TDs. Personally I want him to be a larger part of this team. However, there is a small part of me that thinks he could be either trade bait or a casualty of being cut. He has fairly friendly cap number ($2.6 million), and I think this could be attractive to teams like the Raiders or even the Seahawks. That being said, I don't believe the Wright will be part of the 2015 roster for the Titans.
The Titans have quite a bit invested in Justin Hunter, but his story is wearing thin with the coaches and fanbase. He had 498 yards on 28 catches with 3 TDs, pedestrian numbers at best. He must work on his route running this offseason and his ability to catch passes in a crowd. He has one more year (at best) to prove he can deliver on all these skills we keep hearing about. He will be on the team, but he better show something early or we will have another Kenny Britt on our hands.
As far the rest of the roster, they are interchangable with dozens of other players on practice squads. So, that leads me to the potential free agents that could help bring this team return to the early 2000's dominance...
Demaryius Thomas would be a fantastic addition to the team, but if Peyton Manning has anything to say, he will be back with the Broncos. So, Titans fans don't get your hopes up.
Dez Bryant is another receiver, maybe THE receiver, that any team should covet, but the Cowboys will not let that happen. He is another player that Titans fans shouldn't waste time fantasizing about.
A player that might just fit the mold for the Titans is Torrey Smith from the Ravens. His 2014 cap numbers were very favorable ($1.1 million), but I'm sure he is looking for that big payday. He has speed and enough experience to come in ready to play. He had a down year in 2014 with 767 yards on 49 catches, but with 11 TDs. He knows how to score! He has breakaway speed for the deep ball and could be a nice compliment to Hunter.
Two other potential free agents of interest is Randall Cobb (from Green Bay) and Jermaine Kearse (from Seattle). These players have tasted success at the highest levels, but both have fairly small contracts (as far as NFL standards go) and might be looking for a bigger payday and a bigger role. Either (or both) would bring hope and playmaking to the team.
That being said, this NFL draft is crammed full of receiver talent. Amari Cooper (Alabama), Kevin White (West Virginia), Devante Parker (Louisville), Sammie Coates (Auburn), and Devin Smith (Ohio State) are just a few that are projected in the early rounds. With the Titans needing to fill so many holes in this roster, maybe this might be a position where both free agency and the draft can give us much needed weapons.
Bottom line, this was one of the most under-performing positions on the Titans roster for 2014, and better be a focus of this staff for 2015. If I were a betting man, I would bet on the Titans making multiple moves here.