(Sports Network) - The Titans entered the offseason with the most onerous cap situation in the league, but deals with right tackle Fred Miller and a reported restructuring of DE Kevin Carter's contract will bring relief. Still, the core of quarterback Steve McNair, running back Eddie George and defensive end Jevon Kearse are unlikely to stay together for 2004.
The team opted not to place the franchise tag on Kearse and faces a tough decision on George. The veteran running back is due to make $7 million in 2004, but his play doesn't warrant the big salary any longer.
The Titans' hopes for a Super Bowl appearance ended in the final minute of a three-point loss at New England in the Divisional round. The team made its run with basically the same team as 2002. Changes are needed now, though.
The team has not used a top pick on an offensive lineman since selecting LT Brad Hopkins in 1993. Tennessee could use an upgrade at center. In his first full season, Justin Hartwig struggled against quick defensive linemen like Rod Coleman and run stuffers like Casey Hampton.
Defensive tackle Robaire Smith is a free agent sure to have plenty of suitors. He will likely be too costly for Tennessee to retain. The Titans will need a replacement in free agency or the draft.
Tennessee assembled a trio of tall, quick receivers to go with standout Derrick Mason. Justin McCareins and Drew Bennett are both restricted free agents the Titans would like to keep, but plenty of teams will watch the level they are tendered at. The Titans could sustain the loss of one of them because Tyrone Calico, last year's No. 2 pick, looked ready to play a larger role in the offense by season's end.
The Titans would also like to find a way to retain backup quarterback Billy Volek. Volek proved his value last season and could land an opportunity to compete for a starting job elsewhere.
KEY UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE-Jevon Kearse, DT-Robaire Smith, QB-Billy Volek, TE-Erron Kinney, S-Scott McGarrahan, QB-Neil O'Donnell.
KEY RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR-Justin McCareins, WR-Drew Bennett, DE-Juqua Thomas, TE-Shad Meier, WR-Eddie Berlin.