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Titans' Mail: Deferring Needs, Derrick Henry Timing, Arena Football

Titans Three Red StarsGreetings people.

No dateline as I am moving between New Jersey and Indiana on Monday. Exciting times.

So here is a pre-combine mailbag as we get ready to hear from Brian Callahan and Ran Carthon on Tuesday as the combine starts to get rolling. Hopefully, we'll get a good deal of new information and insight to discuss out of that and then we'll get to know some prospects a bit.

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A Nine-Man Titans' Free-Agent Class from Mike Herndon

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

Regardless of your feelings towards Mike Vrabel and the job that he and his staff did over the past two seasons, there is no denying that a big part of the team’s failures over that period can be attributed to a roster that has rapidly deteriorated since the 2021 season. The offensive line stands out as the biggest weakness, but it’s far from the only below-average position group in Tennessee.

In fact, I’d argue that the Titans are currently subpar in every unit on the roster as currently constituted.

Oct 15, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (6) after an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens ILB Patrick Queen/ © Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

To give an idea of just how much help the roster needs as of today, here is the full list of players that are both under contract and very likely – better than a 90 percent chance – to make the 53-man roster when the 2024 season starts (listed in descending order of cap charge):

  1. Jeffery Simmons
  2. Harold Landry
  3. DeAndre Hopkins
  4. Amani Hooker
  5. Peter Skoronski
  6. Arden Key Read More...
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Hard to See Titans Acquiring Tee Higgins in Tag-and-Trade Scenario

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The buzz from those around the Bengals is that the team is likely to put a franchise tag on Tee Higgins, the receiver who would be the top free agent at the position.

That will cost Cincinnati $21.67 million, a big number but one it can make worth given an estimated $53.2 million in effective cap space per overthecap.com. The franchise-tagged safety Jessie Bates in 2022 before losing him as a free agent to Atlanta last season.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) catches a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens safety Ar'Darius Washington (29) defends in the third quarter of a Week 2 NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.
Tee Higgins/ © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The tagging period starts Tuesday and runs through March 5.

The Titans are desperate for receiver help and would likely court Higgins were he to hit the market given his 6-foot-4, 219-pound build and steady production – 24 touchdowns in 58 games to go with nearly seven targets and five catches a game that have produced an average of 63.5 yards a game and 14.3 yards a catch.

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Future of Titans' DeAndre Hopkins is Pretty Simple

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans move into 2024 with one reliable receiver in DeAndre Hopkins.

He didn’t have the suitors many expected when the Cardinals released him on May 26, 2023, and he ultimately accepted a two-year $26 million contract with Tennessee.

DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins/ Angie Flatt

Now at least a few of you are wondering about that second year, which comes with a base salary of $8.27 million and a cap number of $18.313 million. Hopkins gets a roster bonus of $4.46 million on March 18 which serves to lock it in.

I’ve heard two primary questions about Hopkins.

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Coordinator Dennard Wilson Offers View of Titans' Attacking Defense

Dennard Wilson and Brian Callahan
  Dennard Wilson and Brian Callahan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Dennard Wilson introduced himself to Nashville, he was direct, focused and concise about what he will bring to the Titans as their new defensive coordinator

He started with something we heard before but built to something newer and fresher that I think qualifies as an exciting place to start in mid-March.

“It’s not about scheme, it’s about the players,” he said, echoing what Mike Vrabel said for the bulk of his six years with the Titans. “We have to figure out what they do well and then we’ll put the scheme around what they do well, to allow their talents to flourish.

“I can tell you this about the scheme, and I learned this a long time ago, General George Patton said this:

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Potential Free-Agent Connections for Titans' New Coaching Staff

Potential Free-Agent Connections for Titans' New Coaching Staff

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

Brian Callahan’s first staff as head coach of the Tennessee Titans is taking shape. On Tuesday, the team announced the hires of 10 new coaches as well as the news that 11 members of Mike Vrabel’s 2023 staff would be remaining with the team.

Dec 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver coach Tyke Tolbert reacts in the first half against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
New Titans' WR coach Tyke Tolbert/ © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Callahan still has a few spots to fill out, most notably special teams coordinator and head strength and conditioning coach, but this is likely 80 to 90 percent of the final coaching roster that opens the 2024 season in two-tone blue. Here are the coaches who have been confirmed along with their roles:

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Frank Piraino Not On Brian Callahan's New Titans' Staff

Frank Piraino
  Frank Piraino

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Frank Piraino was bound to go. After three years where the Titans used at least 85 players a season because of an onslaught of injuries, the strength and conditioning coach, who became director of sports performance along the way, paid the price.

His three assistants remain behind on Brian Callahan's new staff, the bulk of which was announced Tuesday. Brian Bell, Tyler Rouse and Haley Roberts are likely to be judged by Piraino's replacement, running the weight room for players who are  working at team headquarters.

Is the strength and conditioning program likely a piece of what has been wrong for the Titans? Sure.

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Special Gap: Some of the Giant Differences Between the Titans and Chiefs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The traditional Monday comparison of the Titans to the new Super Bowl champions doesn't fly given the rebuilding situation in Nashville and all we don't know about what Brian Callahan's first version of the team will look like.

But we can certainly look at the gap between the Tenessee and the now two-time defending champion Chiefs and see some of the ingredients that are missing and sure seem needed in a Lombardi Trophy winner these days.

Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie (22) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) in the first quarter in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Trent McDuffie Breaks up a pass in Super Bowl LVIII/ © Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback problem

The first is Patrick Mahomes, and good luck with that. He's a one-of-a-kind quarterback and you're not finding his equal. Who's beaten him head-to-head? Tom Brady twice and Joe Burrow. Odds are better that you piece together a great defensive game, get good quarterback play, and squeak by than you outplay him at QB. Add Juwan Jennings TD' throw into what Brock Purdy did and the passing game was roughly a wash in Super Bowl LVIII in terms of passer rating.

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