NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Tennessee Titans lose free agents after the new league year starts on Thursday, they will hardly be killer deletions from the depth chart.
The rest of the list is loaded with role players, and just two of them rate as especially important from my vantage point.
Anthony Fasano was as good a blocking tight end as there was in the NFL last season, and while he will turn 33 in April, it would be wise for the Titans to retain him no matter what they might do in the draft. He’s a tremendous, selfless locker room guy who’s big for the culture in addition to still being productive.
Karl Klug is an effective, high-energy, situational pass-rushing defensive lineman. He’s recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles and there likely won’t be a market for him while he rehabilitates from the injury.
The tier after that includes center-guard Brian Schwenke, who did good fill-in work for the injured Quinton Spain at left guard in a three-game stretch; safety Rashad Johnson, who started the first seven games and played in all 16; and Daimion Stafford, a hard-hitting safety who was part of a rotation last season and also played a lot of special teams.
The other free agents: nickel linebacker Sean Spence, return man Marc Mariani, offensive lineman Byron Bell (who spent 2016 on IR), outside linebacker David Bass, linebacker Nate Palmer and cornerback Valentino Blake.
Some of those guys could generate interest, but none are top-tier options who have other teams salivating as the two-day pre-free agency negotiating period opens Tuesday or when free agency opens Thursday.
The Titans’ lack of free-agent talent is both good and bad.
It’s good because they are not going to suffer losses that produce unfillable holes.
It’s bad because Wright and Warmack didn’t pan out. It’s bad because good teams typically have more good players than they are able to hold on to and, as a result, they wind up with compensatory picks a year later.
For the Titans, what comes through the in-door should be better than what exits.
A lot of those one-year guys had their chance to show they deserved a second contract and their play didn’t merit one. The Titans hope their replacements are less test cases and more multiyear solutions.