The competition to be the Tennessee Titans’ starting center this season got a little lighter Thursday.
The team waived Eugene Amano, a seventh-round pick in 2004 who started 68 games, including 31 at center, over nine seasons. He spent last season on injured reserve with a torn triceps sustained in training camp but was the starting center for the two seasons prior to that.
The 31-year-old immediately becomes a free agent and can sign with any team he chooses. He signed a five-year $26.2 million contract prior to the 2010 season and was scheduled to earn $3.9 million in salary this season.
The move was anticipated given that the Titans signed Fernando Velasco, who started 13 games at center last season, to a one-year tender offer and drafted Brian Schwenke in the fourth round. They also signed two veteran free agents, Rob Turner and Chris Spencer, who have experience at center.
All are less expensive options than Amano, who was the starting left guard in 2008 and 2009 and who also started four games at right guard.
“Whoever plays the best in training camp, OTAs and the preseason is going to be the guy,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Thursday prior to the move with Amano.
Schwenke, a 6-foot-3, 314-pounder out of Cal, is considered the long-term solution at that spot and a candidate to win the job this season.
“[Schwenke] has done well,” coach Mike Munchak said. “We’re having him play two positions, … center and guard. Physically, [he] looks really good. … He’s a guy that we thought has a legitimate chance of competing as a rookie.”