The Tennessee Titans have handed out some big contracts in recent years, but there are still plenty of salary cap bargains on the roster going into 2022.
The majority of the Titans’ money is wrapped up in the offense. Tennessee is set to spend $121.4 million on that side of the ball in 2022, which is the fourth-highest total in the NFL.
On the flip side, the defense comes with a cheap price tag. The Titans’ unit will cost $84.2 million, the seventh-lowest total in the league.
Based on what we saw from both sides of the ball in 2021, if we didn’t know any better we’d assume Tennessee is spending more on its defense. Alas, that isn’t the case, but the time to spend big on the defense is rapidly approaching thanks to some rookie contracts expiring.
For now, the Titans have plenty of bargains on the defensive side of the ball going into 2022 in terms of cap hit, and a few on offense. Let’s take a look.
Landry, who is coming off his first double-digit sack season, inked a massive five-year, $87.5 million contract extension this offseason, but the first-year cap hit of the deal comes in at a very low $5.05 million. The outside linebacker’s cap hit explodes in 2023 at $18.8 million.
Simmons emerged as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL in 2021 but enters the fourth year of his rookie deal accounting for a cap hit of just $4.02 million. Simmons’ fifth-year option will keep him cheap for another year ($10.75 million), but he should garner a massive extension soon.
The Titans restructured Cunningham’s contract earlier this offseason to free up cap space and lower his cap hit to just $3.99 million. Under $4 million for one of the best tackling and run-stopping linebackers in the NFL? Sign us up; however, the fun ends in 2023, when Cunningham’s cap hit goes up to $13.7 million.
Jones’ two-year, $14 million extension ranks 10th among centers in terms of annual average, but his $3.41 million cap hit in 2022 ranks 15th. Jones’ 2023 cap hit will go up to $8.2 million, but that’s still reasonable and the deal has an out, with a dead-cap charge of $4.5 million if he’s cut next offseason.
The fourth-year pro, who accounts for a measly $2.72 million, was improved in coverage and notched the third-highest overall PFF grade among safeties in 2021. Hooker’s time to get paid is coming, as he’s in the final year of his rookie contract, but he’s ridiculously cheap for another year.
Fulton cemented himself as one of the best young corners in the NFL in his second season. Fulton posted elite coverage numbers, with a 51.4 percent completion rate allowed and 71.3 passer rating allowed. The Titans will enjoy the LSU product at a cheap price for the next two seasons.
We already listed Cunningham, but now think about Long, who is almost as good as Cunningham against the run and as a tackler, but is better in pass coverage. If he can continue on his current trajectory, Long will get paid handsomely in 2023.
Hooper isn’t elite by any stretch, but he’s a starting-caliber tight end who accounts for a cap hit of just $2.69 million, a little over $20,000 more than one of his backups, Geoff Swaim.
Under $900,000 for a solid, starting-caliber nose tackle? Finding a diamond in the undrafted free agent rough like Tart is one of the reasons Tennessee’s defense remains so cheap.
After tying his career-high with nine sacks in 2021, Autry would likely net a better deal than his three-year, $21.5 million contract if he hit free agency in 2022. He ranked tied for eighth in sacks among defensive linemen last year, yet his cap hit ranks 34th in the NFL at the position.