The Tennessee Titans have just under $20 million in available cap space as of June 22, which means they are in good shape and might want to get started on getting ahead when it comes to keeping core players under contract.
Tennessee proved it was willing to shell out money to players it believes will help the organization down the road, just recently they gave free safety Michael Griffin a five-year, $36 million deal after he had been franchised back in March.
There are still at least a couple of key Titans that would probably be worth extending now, rather than later as they could become free agents in 2013.
Cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Jared Cook would appear to top the list of players the Titans would want to hang onto long term.
The Titans have been in talks with McCourty’s agent on a long-term extension, though it has not yet come to fruition. McCourty, along with Griffin, has now become the veteran leader of the secondary and will have to fill a void left by the departure of Cortland Finnegan.He finished the 2011 with a solid 103 tackles and had two interceptions.
McCourty is by far Tennessee.'s best option at corner and it would be foolish to let him to depart the organization with inexperienced and minimal depth behind him.
The Titans may be playing the "wait and see" game when it comes to Cook, which would be a mistake. What will the Titans do if Cook has a breakout year and eclipses 1,000 yards receiving? Cook has had a full offseason to develop under offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's offensive scheme and should flourish as part of an offense that Palmer has promised to open up this year with more emphasis on the passing attack.
Thus far, there have been no talks of extending Cook, meaning that Tennessee may be willing to gamble here and use the franchise tag if Cook has a big season.
If Cook does manage to put up such numbers the contract he would demand would skyrocket. With players such as Antonio Gates and Rob Gronkowski having such lucrative deals, even the franchise tag would cost more than what the Titans are willing to pay.
Another player, the Titans probably should look to extend is kicker Rob Bironas, who is coming off one of his best seasons, going 29 of 32 overall and hitting 6 of 7 from beyond 50 yards. He is coming to the end of the four-year, $12 million deal he signed in 2009.
Tennessee does not want to find itself in a situation similar to the 2011 Baltimore Ravens, make it all the way to the playoffs and then to the AFC Championship Game only to lose it all wide left on the foot of an inconsistent Billy Cundiff.
Starting next year each team must spend at least 95 percent of their salary caps during each season, leaving many questions as to who the Titans feel they want to keep around for the foreseeable future.
Tennessee may want to consider locking up a couple of key players before they have breakout seasons, they do not want to enter a bidding war with other teams and potentially lose proven players, that would mean the organization would have to move back to the drawing board in next year's draft when it could have other pressing needs to tend to.