Ho boy am I not going to enjoy writing this. For those Titans fans out there, you probably have already heard the bad news about the roster cuts the team had to make over the last few days. The Titans have been putting off this size of a cut for the last three years, ever since their last run in the Super Bowl. Basically, as Floyd Reese said, they have trying to keep the core players together so they could remain in the hunt for a championship. And minus the championship, the Titans have the third best record in the league since 1997. They have lost in the playoffs to eventual Super Bowl winners in Baltimore and New England, and as this fan will attest, have always been a hard-hitting gutsy football team. They especially proved the gutsy part last year after week 10 of the season, when they had already been eliminated from the playoffs, the Titans refused to roll over and took good teams to the wire each week. It was a true sign of professionalism all around, and one could see Jeff Fishers never-say-die attitude filtered through his players.
This being said, the salary cap issue has surfaced like an unholy beast this year, and has claimed six veterans from our squad. The following players have been cut from the roster due to the size of their contracts.
DE Kevin Carter
FB Robert Holcombe
WR Derrick Mason
OT Fred Miller
K Joe Nedney
CB Samari Rolle
Once these players were released, the Titans have gone from being $28 million over the cap to $8 million under, which will give them room to sign their free agents, and have plenty of money left over to sign their first round draft pick.
All six of the players listed have given their best to the Titans in years past. But out of all of them losing Derrick "D-Mase" Mason is the toughest one to swallow. At $4.7 million, his cap number wasn't anywhere near as high as the others, and D-Mase was easily the most valuable offensive weapon over the last few years besides McNair. D-Mase is the first player in franchise history to post four straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and last year, he caught a career-high 96 passes for 1,168 yards with seven touchdowns. He also holds the NFL single-season record of 2,690 combined net yards. Not to mention D-Mase was one of the most public faces for the Titans, with the Derrick Mason Radio show on WWTN, and the Derrick Mason Foundation-started to help at-risk children and battered women in the greater Nashville area. Mason holds an annual golf tournament during the offseason as well as other events to raise money for the foundation. His wife, Marci, acts as the organization’s Vice President. My friend and I had the pleasure to meet D-Mase at his radio show last season, and he was the most down to earth pro-sports player I have ever met. He didn't act like we were taking up his time, and stayed to chat with us for quite a bit. He will be sorely missed, both on and off the field.
There has been talk that the Titans will have a chance to resign some of the players listed above, but I think that may be wishfull thinking. Other teams would be insane not to snatch up D-Mase or a Robert Holcombe. Nedney, Miller, Carter and Rolle may not be worth as much for various reasons but they are all quality players, and their presence will be missed as well.
All this being said, the Titans still look to make another run next year. McNair appears to be ready to rock- his annual off season surgery appears to have gone well. I can't imagine why he would appear in the NFL "Annie-Tomorrow" commercial if he didn't plan on returning. And we still have some young guns upcoming in Chris Brown, Tory Fleming and Ben Troupe. Add in the offensive genius of one Norm Chow, former offensive coordinator for the USC Trojans, as well as Ray Sherman as the new Wide Receivers coach, and all certainly does not appear lost. On the defensive side, check out this interview with Jim Schwartz, the defensive co-ordinator who after a 5-11 season last year seems pretty fired up about the upcoming one.
We still have a ways to go before training camp, but the tough pill to swallow has come early, and now we Titans Fans can begin the climb up the mountain.
It's gonna be weird not seeing this at the Coliseum though-