Free agency hasn't even started and already the Tennessee Titans are making news - perhaps more for what they are not doing instead of what they are doing.
The Titans have decided that cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who might be the top corner available on the open market, will be allowed to test free-agent waters.
The Titans opted against putting the franchise tag on Finnegan, which would have cost $10.6 million, something in line with the range of annual salary Finnegan and his agent Terry Watson are looking for and possibly could get on the open market. Instead, the Titans placed the franchise tag on free safety Michael Griffin, a move that will cost Tennessee $6.2 million.
Tennessee never budged from the $7 million a year offer made back in August over four years that prompted Finnegan to stage a weekend walkout from training camp.
Finnegan had wanted to stay in Tennessee, but seemed to know as far back as the lifting of the lockout that his days as a Titan might be numbered. As he led offseason informal workouts for Titans players, Finnegan openly hinted that he believed 2011 would be his last year in Tennessee, what with a regime change.
Finnegan is believed to be seeking something in the neighborhood of a $50 million package with an average somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 per season.
"With the Titans not franchising Cortland, it looks like Cortland is heading to the free-agent market and that Cortland could be one of the most sought-after players available," Finnegan's agent Terry Watson told TitanInsider.
Given that cover corners are a needed commodity around the NFL, some team could pay close to the sum he covets.
Where that leaves the Titans at the cornerback position is up for debate. Jason McCourty, and to a slightly lesser extent Alterraun Verner, are proven commodities, but behind them, there is little experience. Tommie Campbell, a seventh-round pick last year, played mostly on special teams and sometimes needs to keep his emotion in check on the field (of course, Finnegan has had that issue at times, too), and second-year man Chris Hawkins pleased the coaches with his play filling in last year. But he still has a very small pool of work from which to draw upon regarding evaluating if he is ready for a bigger role or not.
Beyond those two, the Titans will be compelled to find some sort of additional depth either in the draft or the free-agent market. Which way the Titans go at cornerback will probably be predicated upon which direction they head to solve their defensive end woes.
If the Titans like this year's crop of ends in the draft, and spend a first-round pick on a player like Melvin Ingram of South Carolina or Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, then they might be willing to spend a little more in free agency at the cornerback position. The same theory would hold true if they go mid-level end like Jeremy Mincey of Jacksonville.
If end is the free-agent priority with a run at Houston's Mario Williams, then the cornerback shopping will almost assuredly be done on the cheap in free agency and/or in the draft.
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.