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Titans who shouldn’t be back in 2011
Photo by Andrew Strickert for Total Titans
Justin Gage (L) shouldn’t be back in 2011.

I wrote in a recent article, Six positions the Titans need to upgrade in 2011, about the positions that needed an upgrade, either by a current Titan or a newcomer. In most cases, it will take a newcomer to accomplish the upgrade, and we’ll be looking at possible additions in the coming months.

This article focuses on the noteworthy Titans who probably won’t be back this year. We’ll look at this in two sections. First are those players who I am reasonably confident will not be back. The players in the next group have a chance of returning.

We’ll start with those who shouldn’t be back, after the break.

Randy Moss – If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out Drexel’s recent article, Straight invisible homey: the vanishing act of Randy Moss. It does seem a little odd that the Titans couldn’t find a way to put a future Hall of Famer on the field more often or to target him more frequently on those occasions he was.

It was a pretty expensive, and failed, experiment. The Titans anted up $3.4M for Moss as a replacement during Kenny Britt’s absence. The dividends were meager, only 6 receptions, which cost them $566,666.66 per catch. I have to think Moss hasn’t played much because the Titans believe he doesn’t have much left in the tank, certainly not enough to reward him with a big contract.

Justin Gage – I don’t see how the Titans can keep Gage on the roster ahead of Kenny Britt, Nate Washington or Damian Williams. Britt and Williams are the future and if the Titans want a veteran presence, they’ll still have Washington. Gage’s contract calls for a base salary of $3.5M in 2011, the final year on his contract. That’s more than just a tad too expensive.

Bo Scaife – For two years, I’ve been writing that Scaife has been the most overpaid tight end in the league. Now that Jared Cook has started to come on, Scaife should be labeled expendable. I thought he was expendable two years ago, even before Cook came on board. Give me Alge Crumpler and/or Craig Stevens any time. We’ll be good to go with Cook and Stevens. Cook may not be able to block worth a lick, but Scaife wasn’t much better.

Jovan Haye – He’s been a major disappointment to me since his arrival in Tennessee. I had high hopes for him, which were never realized. Haye has been a healthy scratch for several games recently, which is a pretty good indication the Titans have given up on him.
David Thornton – Even more invisible than Moss, Thornton was a man who took up a precious roster spot for much of the season. Boy, don’t you wish he had been healthy and could have played instead of Gerald McRath? Or, since he wasn’t healthy, don’t you wish the Titans had released him in training camp to make room for LeGarrette Blount? Keeping Thornton was a roster management gamble which failed.
Thornton is one of the real good guys and I sincerely wish the very best for him. I don’t know what his plans are after football, but I hope it will be something working with children, maybe as a teacher, counselor or coach.
Jacob Ford – Prior to the draft, Ford was considered to be the second best DE on the roster. Turns out he was the fifth best. One thing we knew was that he was a liability in run defense, even as the second best DE. That much didn’t change.
The following Titans each probably have somewhere around a 50-50 chance of returning for the 2011 season.
Vince Young – There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t pass on a chance to draft a franchise quarterback if you need one and the Titans will be in position to do that this year. I’m sure that will be a factor when the top brass evaluate Young‘s future. Vince’s contract calls for a $4.25M roster bonus and 8.5M in base salary for the 2011 season, the final year on his contract. That’s awfully expensive for a quarterback the current coach doesn’t want, a viewpoint that the Sr. Exec VP and the GM seem to share.
On the other hand, that’s only $1M more than Young’s contract called for last year. Vince has one other thing in his favor too. Bud Adams continues to make noises, publicly, anyway, that Vince is still his guy.
Kerry Collins – His contract expires and he’ll be a free agent in March. If Jeff Fisher is back, you have to believe he’ll want Collins back too. If someone new is coaching the Titans, who knows what he‘ll want? If the new coach wants a veteran backup capable of filling in for spot starts, Collins would be a logical candidate. Collins has said he’d like to remain in Nashville, and in his case, it’s easy to believe that’s true, due to his aspirations as a country music songwriter.
Ahmard Hall – I’m a huge Ahmard Hall fan for his service to our country. I also like the way he used to block, and still does on occasion. He’s also a valuable special teams contributor. I’d like to think Sarge will wear two-tone blue again this year but he hasn’t been as good as he once was. One encouraging sign is that the Titans have been using him on screen passes a little more.
Leroy Harris – One of those six positions I wrote was in need of an upgrade was left guard. In that article, I gave the reasons why the interior line needs to be upgraded. This is the ’who’ part of it. Last year, the Titans re-signed C Eugene Amano to a six-year deal, so they’re invested in him. RG Jake Scott is better than Harris and still has one year remaining on his contract. That leaves Harris, who will be a free agent in March, as the most likely to be replaced if a change is made.
I’d like to see the Titans re-sign him as a backup. However, if he has a chance to sign elsewhere for some nice money with the opportunity to remain a starter, he’ll probably walk.
Stephen Tulloch – He’ll be a free agent and could be a better fit elsewhere. If there’s a team who has a big DT or two to put in front of him, and that team doesn’t need him to play pass defense in nickel, he might get a good offer from them. The man sure can tackle. He can also get burned a lot in pass coverage. Frank Wycheck made an interesting observation on the radio this morning – Tulloch has zero forced fumbles in his five-year career.
Chris Hope – I sure don’t want him back as a starter, not with the way he played the past two months. Hope does have a year remaining on his contract and veteran DBs are valuable so there’s a chance he’ll be back again. Hopefully as a backup.
As I mentioned in the six positions article, Hope didn’t get the benefit of a good pass rush for the second half of the season. I also wonder if Hope didn’t get injured or worn down over the course of the season because it seemed he played better in September and October. (Please disregard the PI call vs. the Broncos when evaluating that last statement.)
That’s my take on the players who will be leaving, or are likely to. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions.