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NFL Tennessee Titans

5 Tennessee Titans Who Mean the Most to the Team’s Future

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5 Tennessee Titans Who Mean the Most to the Team's Future

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing the NFL season with a 7-9 record, the Tennessee Titans missed out on the NFL playoffs by just one or two games -- games that they easily could have won. The Titans will be disappointed to have missed out on the playoffs, because their defense played well enough to win, but an injury to Jake Locker killed their offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a winning NFL quarterback and, statistically, Chris Johnson averages many more yards with Locker at QB and much less with Fitzpatrick. It’s hard to win any games, no matter how well the defense plays, without a consistent offense.

This season, the expectations are higher. Tennessee now has a new coach in former Arizona Cardinals head coach and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. If Whisenhunt wants to start off successfully early on – and of course he does – he’ll have to not only make good decisions in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft but with the players currently on the Titans’ roster that are crucial to the future of the team.

Unlike a lot of NFL teams, a few of the Titans’ most important players are players who will be free agents this year. The decision to let these players go or keep them in Tennessee could be what makes or breaks Whisenhunt in his first year with the team and also be what everyone looks at as the reason the Titans are either in or out of the playoffs next season. Here are the five players who mean the most to the future of the Titans.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Alterraun Verner

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Verner is going to be a free agent this season, but he must be retained by Tennessee as one of the best cornerbacks statistically in the NFL. Their pass defense was extremely tough last season, but offensive woes and the inability to get to the quarterback hindered the Titans.

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4. Chance Warmack

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Because of the poor numbers put up by Chris Johnson last season, a lot of people think that Warmack has a lot of work to do; that’s wrong. CJ played extremely well when Jake Locker was at quarterback and poorly when Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center because the two play separate styles. Warmack had a solid rookie season and will be a great offensive lineman for the future.

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3. Jake Locker

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Locker is going to be a Titan whether new head coach Ken Whisenhunt decides to go in a different direction or not. Tennessee would be stupid to not give their injury-plagued quarterback another chance, and I expect him to shine.

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2. Kendall Wright

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Wright is another level of receiver. Whether Tennessee decides to stick with Locker or move on to a new quarterback, the Titans’ QB must get the ball to Wright more. If Locker had remained healthy last season, Wright may have become one of the top receivers in the NFL.

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1. Bernard Pollard

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Tennessee must re-sign Bernard Pollard; whatever the Titans do this offseason doesn’t matter if they let him go. Pollard brought a physical mentality that Tennessee has been missing on defense for a long time. If the Titans can get a solid pass-rusher or two, they could have one of the top defenses in the NFL.