Steve Hutchinson Retirement Creates New Void in Tennessee Titans OL
Are you one of the Tennessee Titans enthusiasts who was dreaming of a scenario where the team signed either offensive guards Andy Levitre or Louis Vasquez and drafted either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper with the 10th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft?
That dream has become more of a possibility. According to Jim Wyatt from The Tennessean, 35-year-old Steve Hutchinson plans to retire. In 2012, Hutchinson played in 12 games before he suffered a season-ending knee injury that required surgery.
The seven-time All Pro offensive lineman had two years remaining on a three-year contract that he signed during the 2012 offseason. Hutchinson’s departure will save the Titans $3.75 million on their 2013 salary cap. That puts the Titans around $18-19 million under the cap. Earlier last week, they agreed to deals with Rob Bironas and Keyunta Dawson.
What will the Titans do with that cap space? Look for them to re-invest that money into another interior offensive lineman. Along with Hutchinson, the Titans must replace their other guard positions. Leroy Harris and Eugene Amano aren’t expected to return unless they accept backup roles.
Interior offensive linemen aren’t the only needs on this roster. The Titans could also use another defensive end and a tight end to replace Jared Cook. Do the Titans want a veteran defensive end who specializes as a pass-rusher (e.g. John Abraham, Osi Umenyiora) or do they prefer a bulky defensive end who could split playing time with Kamerion Wimbley (e.g. Michael Bennett)?
Coaches and front-office executives know that this team must make the playoffs during the 2013-14 season. Anything less than the playoffs will lead to pink slips. Expect an aggressive strategy as management pursues free agents.