When the clock strikes midnight (Eastern), another year of free agency will begin in the NFL. This year will be unlike any other in that it is an uncapped year with no limits on spending for players in free agency.
That said, look for the Titans to sit back and take their usual cautious approach, even if it means some of the biggest names, including a few of their own, head for greener pastures elsewhere.
Also, I wouldn’t expect Tennessee to jump into the fray for any of the top-rated free agents from other teams immediately either. Even though the Titans admit their defense needs to be repaired, don’t look for Julius Peppers or Karlos Dansby to be touching down in Nashville as they search for big free-agent deals.
In all, eight Titans players hit the unrestricted free agent market tonight at 11 p.m. Nashville time.
Here is one man’s handicapping of how much of a chance the Titans might have to retain each of these players.
LB Keith Bulluck: (Chance of returning – 20 percent) Bulluck and his agent Gary Wichard had to be baffled by the Titans’ refusal to engage in any talks about an extension. That meant he was all but out the door. However, because he is coming off knee surgery and might not be able to help a team right away, he could linger on the free agent market, giving the Titans time to size up their linebacker situation and see if Bulluck still fits.
TE Alge Crumpler: (Chance of returning – 65 percent) Crumpler’s agent told The City Paper recently he was hopeful a deal could be worked out to keep the veteran tight end in Tennessee. Jeff Fisher said the same thing at the Combine. Despite the presence of Craig Stevens, Crumpler could still be a viable option in the Tennessee run game.
CB Nick Harper: (Chance of returning – 0 percent) Harper had issues with his forearm last year, and the Titans are ready to move on and get younger from the 35-year-old cornerback who has been a solid leader and veteran presence since arriving from Indianapolis.
CB Rod Hood: (Chance of returning – 20 percent) Hood played well in spurts when he started in place of Harper. The Titans had voiced some interest in bringing him back, and he could serve as decent veteran depth and perhaps even compete with some younger corners in camp for a starter’s role.
S Kevin Kaesviharn: (Chance of returning – 5 percent) Kaesviharn did a decent job filling a role on special teams as an in-season replacement, but that role will probably go to a younger player in 2010.
DE Jevon Kearse: (Chance of returning – 0 percent) Jeff Fisher explained last week that Kearse’s time with the Titans had come to an end. The question becomes is it the end of his NFL career.
C Kevin Mawae: (Chance of returning – 15 percent) Mawae and his family love Nashville and love the Titans, but with the re-signing of Eugene Amano, there is no starting job awaiting him in Tennessee. He has a standing offer to return as a backup, but probably will find a job as a starter on a team needing a quick fix at center.
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch: (Chance of returning – 10 percent) Vanden Bosch has been a stalwart since arriving five years ago from Arizona, making three Pro Bowls. But the Titans have not had any meaningful talks with him about an extension, and some team will pony up for him in a defensive end market that gets thin once Peppers is gone.