Are you ready for some football, as Hank Williams, Jr. asks each year?
The answer to that, with the lockout now over, is decidedly yes.
But before that can be answered, the question is are you ready for some transactions.
The Titans have more housekeeping to do than most teams simply because of the timing of the coaching change and the hiring of assistants with the lockout.
Here are the five things that have to be done by the Titans in order to get things for the 2011 season in full swing.
1) Prioritize their own free agents. Leroy Harris is a guy the Titans want back at guard. After that, Ahmard Hall at fullback would seem to be someone Tennessee would like to hold on to not only to block for Chris Johnson but also for his locker room presence. Beyond that, Dave Ball, Jason Babin and Jacob Ford are all free agents and the Titans need to bring back at least one of them in order to not be thin at the position. Of the three, Babin, coming off 12.5 sacks, could be the most difficult to re-sign. Stephen Tulloch likely will command more money than the Titans will pay as well.
2) Find a quarterback. Kerry Collins is retired. Vince Young will be jettisoned as soon as the Titans can kick him to the curb, and Jake Locker has missed valuable off-season time because of the lockout. Matt Hasselbeck is the favorite of the front office, but can the Titans sell him on mentoring Locker and starting in the mean time for a rebuilding team? Plus, the Seattle Seahawks may still want to hold on to Hasselbeck themselves, and are the Titans willing to pay starter money to a stop-gap veteran who might only start for one year at the most.
3) Sign the draft picks. The sooner Locker and Akeem Ayers are signed, the sooner the Titans can get busy teaching them the system. Can Locker learn enough on the fly to start on opening day if the Titans miss out on Hasselback or another veteran like Donovan McNabb? Time is ticking. Ayers is ticketed to be starter as well, and other rookies need to learn and contribute as well.
4) Keep Chris Johnson happy. It’s no secret that CJ wants to be paid like one of the top offensive players in the NFL, and there is the possibility he could hold out if he doesn’t get rewarded for his first three seasons. The Titans need to be proactive here and jump out with a good faith starting offer that gets CJ in camp and keeps him happy.
5) Find some undrafted gems. With as many holes as the Titans have and with a new coaching staff taking over, Tennessee should be an attractive landing spot for any college players who fell through the cracks in the draft and are looking for an opportunity to show they belong in the NFL. To unearth a player or two here would be a nice bonus for the Titans.