Since Bo Scaife is not expected to be a Titan this year, he will no longer be the most overpaid player on the team. That distinction will then belong to Chris Hope, who will be due a $6.5M base salary if he remains with the Titans this year, as mentioned by Drexel in his positional review of the safeties in March.
Despite Hope's subpar play last season, I don't see anyone on the roster capable of adequately replacing him, which leaves the Titans in a predicament. Do they overpay to keep Hope for the final year on his contract or do they replace him with a free agent?
There may be three top potential replacements for Hope in the free agent market:
SS Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens, 28 years old
He may be the best strong safety that will be on the market. The Baltimore Sun reports that based in part on the Ravens' past history at the position, they are not expected to re-sign him. Landry could be either a restricted or an unrestricted free agent, depending on how the labor situation shakes out.
S Danieal Manning, Chicago Bears, age 28
Manning has played both FS and SS in Lovie Smith's Tampa-2, which could make for an interesting safety tandem if he's paired with Michael Griffin. It could allow Jerry Gray to do a lot of things with them, as they have a lot of similarities. Manning can also provide depth as a return man. Although he's been in the league only five years, Manning is 28 years old. It's not known yet whether he will be restricted or unrestricted in free agency.
SS Quintin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles, age 30
A Pro Bowl selection in 2009, Mikell is not expecting to return to the Eagles, who selected a safety in the second-round of the draft. Rotoworld writes, "a strong run-stopper, the soon-to-be 31 year old is also still solid in coverage, and should draw plenty of interest on the open market." An eight-year veteran, Mikell will be an UFA. The good news is that he's better than Hope. The bad news is that he's the same age as Hope; he'll be on the wrong side of 30 this season and, like Hope, may be past his prime.
Actually, I believe Hope could be adequate for one more year if the front seven can help him by providing a good pass rush. I don't believe he'd be worth $6.5 million though.
Who would you like to see at strong safety for the Titans this year?