Title Photo: Tennessee Titans and Donald Page
The Titans have been making moves recently, and they are not good. After trading Isaiah Wilson to Miami, they have released a pair of veteran defensive backs, Malcolm Butler, and Kenny Vaccaro, both former Pro-Bowlers. As I mentioned in my Titans free agents blog, Vaccaro, and Butler were potential cap casualties. Well, let’s see how I did with my cap casualty predictions: Adam Humphries✅, Butler✅, Vaccaro✅. I went 3-3 in that department. Anyway, let’s dive into it.
Photo: Wade Payne / Associated Press
Butler was easily the number one CB in 2020 Tennessee as he tied with Amani Hooker with 4 INTs, good enough to lead the team. He was cut after three years of a 5-year $61.25 million. In year one he looked like burnt toast, allowing two TDs to Amari Cooper, vs. the Cowboys. In year two he notched two picks, before breaking his wrist in week 7, and missing out on the Titans AFC Championship run. This season, however, he had 100 total tackles, and 14 passes defended, along with the 4 interceptions. Cutting him frees up $10 million in cap space. In my free agent blog, I said that Jon Robinson would try to restructure his deal, or cut him, allowing for an opportunity for Desmond King to come back. As of now, Tennessee doesn’t have King back and their CB depth looks like this: CB1: Adoree’ Jackson. CB2: Breon Borders. CB3/Slot: Kristian Fulton. This is an awful group to say the least, though there is lots of upside. Expect someone to come here via the draft or free agency, otherwise, 2021 is going to be a long season for the secondary.
Photo: Steven Ryan / Getty Images
Named in Titans Wire’s “best contracts of the Jon Robinson era” Vaccaro was brought in to replace Johnathan Cyprien, and played better than him. But now, he is off the team, as Hooker played well in his absence in 2020. It really isn’t Kenny’s fault though. Mostly everyone on Shane Bowen’s defense struggled, even Kevin Byard, who is one of the best ballhawks in the game, had only one pick this year. Cutting Vaccaro saves $4 million, and frees up much-needed space. The depth at safety looks a bit like this right now: FS1: Byard. SS1: Hooker. Hybrid S1/Special Teamer: Dane Cruikshank. Hybrid S2/Special Teamer: Joshua Kalu. Maybe some depth will be added but that is not the top priority.
I will miss both of these guys, and the team will miss them too (especially Butler). The moves were understanding, however, as football is not just a sport, it’s a business, and these things happen. What will be interesting is how the front office will combat these moves, and how they will replace the two veterans.