When the clock strikes past midnight in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, the normally hectic period also known as NFL free agency will officially begin.
As a result of the scenario of an uncapped season, the rules of the game for this year's rendition of free agency will be a bit different. Due to scores of players with under six years of NFL experience literally restricted in their free agency options, the unrestricted free agent market will be watered down to say the least.
Of course, the Tennessee Titans are rarely big players when it comes to the first week of free agency, so don't expect them to be in the running for the likes of Julius Peppers, Dunta Robinson or Karlos Dansby.
So what type of moves should we expect out of the usually conservative Titans once free agency begins tomorrow, you ask? My thoughts regarding the matter are after the jump.
On the eve of the free agency timeframe, the Titans were busy preparing themselves as they issued tender offers to all of their restricted free agents. In the event that another NFL team is in pursuit of players such as Tony Brown, Stephen Tulloch, LenDale White and others, they will have to pony up draft-pick compensation in order to secure the services of any of these Titans. In the week or so leading up to tomorrow, the Titans have also re-signed versatile offensive lineman Eugene Amano, special teams' stalwart Donnie Nickey and long-snapper Ken Amato.
Of course, all of the in-house Titan free agents-to-be haven't been offered deals to stick around. Popular but aging defensive players such as Kyle Vanden Bosch and Keith Bulluck are unrestricted free agents, and there's a good chance that both players could be patrolling the gridiron in another NFL locale in 2010. Other notable Titan UFA's are veteran C Kevin Mawae, CBs Nick "Toast" Harper and Rod "MIA" Hood and TE Algernon Crumpler.
I'd love to see the team find a way to keep Bulluck in the fold, but I'm not too enthused about this possibility turning into a reality. As for KVB, a likely outcome for the "Energizer Bunny" is for him to join forces with former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in the Motor City. I'm thinking the team will attempt to re-sign either Hood or Harper, with Harp being the player likely to be retained (unfortunately). Mawae is probably headed elsewhere, as the case with Crumpler, due to youngsters such as Leroy Harris and Craig Stevens ready to assume the veterans' former starting positions.
Will the Titans sign anyone else's unrestricted free agents?
As we all know, the Titans have pressing needs on the defensive side of the football. The team could decide to address some of those needs in the unrestricted free agency market, but as usual, don't expect the Titans to "make it rain" in the direction of some of the league's most coveted UFAs such as CBs Dunta Robinson and Leigh Bodden and stud DE Julius Peppers.
In a recent article, Tom mentioned OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa as a possibility and due to the likely inexpensive price-tag attached to attaining his services, this is certainly a move that could occur. At cornerback, a guy such as Minnesota's Bennie Sapp could be a target as well.
Undoubtedly, those names do nothing to excite a fanbase but considering the ways of the team we follow, it's definitely par for the course for this organization's free agency modus operandi.
What about the restricted free agent market?
The names on this year's restricted free agent list are certainly much more appealing than the UFA offerings but unfortunately, draft-pick compensation will be required if a team is entertaining the thought of signing one of these guys.
Talented cornerbacks such as Carlos Rogers and Richard Marshall would look nice opposite of Cortland Finnegan at the Titans' starting CB position but considering it's going to require a high draft pick to attain their services, the likelihood of one of these guys playing in the city of Nashville next year are probably slim-to-none.
One guy that I noticed on the RFA list is Pittsburgh's William Gay, who despite some struggles last season, is still a young guy with some upside. Prior to last year's debacle of a performance, I was impressed with Gay as he emerged from being an unheralded fifth-rounder to becoming a tough-nosed contributor on the Steelers' Super Bowl winning team in 2008. Unfortunately, his 2009 performance was filled with struggles as well as becoming a poster-child for violent collisions due to his unfortunate encounter with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.
Probably due to his disappointing '09 season, the Steelers decided to extend Gay the original-draft position tender, meaning that he could be attained for only a fifth-round draft selection. The Jared Cook trade aside, the Titans usually keep their draft picks but for a mere fifth-rounder, why not think about going after a guy who's still young (25) with some possible upside?
So what are your thoughts, guys? What moves would you like to see the Titans make as free agency begins?