The Tennessee Titans were 7-9 in 2013, and finishing the season under .500 was enough to get HC Mike Munchak fired after just three seasons. Munchak had been with the Oilers and Titans organization as a player or coach since 1982. After relieving Munchak of his duties, Titans owner Bud Adams outbid the Detroit Lions when he offered $1 million more to Ken Whisenhunt while both teams were attempting to lure him away from his OC position with the San Diego Chargers. Whisenhunt deserves a ton of credit for the Chargers QB Phillip Rivers’ vast improvement in his first, and only, season as San Diego’s OC.
The first order of business the organization will address is RB Chris Johnson’s future, or lack thereof, with the team. If Johnson doesn’t restructure his contract, or take a pay cut (he already said he would not), he will be released and will likely clear waivers due to his large salary that no team wants to take on. Once he clears he is free to sign with any team he wants, and there will be plenty of teams requesting Johnson’s services for a more affordable price. That scenario leaves the Titans with two serviceable RBs, Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle, both of which have shown flashes of being fantasy relevant players at one point in their careers.
The Titans selected QB Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the jury is still out on his ability to be the Titans franchise QB. Locker has showcased his talents in spurts during his first three years, but injuries have limited him to 23 starts in those 48 games. Locker’s 2013 season was cut short when he sustained what was eventually diagnosed as a Lisfranc injury in a week 10 game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Locker and the Titans expect him to be fully recovered from the surgery by OTAs. Former Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick filled in for Locker in 2013, starting nine games to Locker’s seven.
All those uncertainties will get ironed out in the months leading up to the start of the season. Despite the game of musical chairs the Titans played at QB in 2013, and the boom-or-bust play of Johnson, the one reliable fantasy option was WR Kendall Wright. Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns in his second year in Tennessee, and was clearly the favorite target of both Fitzpatrick and Locker.
Other Titans WRs include Nate Washington, who has one year left on his deal but could be a cap room casualty two weeks from now. The other four WRs who caught passes in a Titans uniform in 2013 combined for 49 receptions. TE Delanie Walker is coming off a career-best season in 2013 after spending the previous eight seasons as a San Francisco 49er. Walker caught 60 of his 86 targets for 571 yards and six touchdowns. He is a consistent blocking TE who is also a reliable option in the red zone.
If Locker’s rehab goes well and he has the time to work and learn Whisenhunt’s offense alongside his teammates, then Wright will be the primary benefactor, with Walker close behind him. All fantasy signs point to yes for Wright and the Titans in 2014.