Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The Tennessee Titans made several roster moves Tuesday to get under the $80.6 million salary cap, agreeing to long-term deals with linebacker Keith Bulluck and tight end Erron Kinney. The team also indicated that unrestricted free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse will likely not be re-signed by Tuesday's midnight (et) deadline.
"This is never an easy time of year and this year was no exception," said Titans general manager Floyd Reese. "It was very important to us to get a couple of players under contract before they entered free agency."
Bulluck, a four-year pro, made his first Pro Bowl this past season after leading the team with 171 tackles. He was selected in the first round, 30th overall, in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Syracuse.
"Keith has been and will be a fantastic player for us, and getting him locked up ahead of time will help us cap-wise both in the long and short run," said Reese.
Kinney, also veteran of four years, will move into the starting lineup after the retirement of long-time starter Frank Wycheck. He is coming off his best season in which he started all 16 games, amassing 41 receptions for 381 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs.
Kearse has spent his entire five-year career with Tennessee, emerging as a dominant pass rusher in his rookie season with 14.5 sacks, a single-season record for first-year players. Nicknamed "The Freak", Kearse garnered NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 1999, and was named a starter in the Pro Bowl, becoming the first rookie defensive end in AFC history to earn a selection to the Pro Bowl as a starter.
After enduring an injury-plagued 2002, Kearse started 14 games last year, leading the team with 9 1/2 sacks. He has 47 1/2 sacks in five years with the Titans, who selected him in the first round of the 1999 draft out of Florida.
The Titans had the option of placing the franchise tag on Kearse, which would have guaranteed him a one-year salary of $6.5 million, but chose not to do so while discussions on a multi-year deal were ongoing.
Still, Reese has the majority of his starting lineup from 2003 in tact. "Now we enter free agency with at worst 20 of our 22 starters under contract."
In another move to get under the cap, Tennessee released backup offensive lineman Tom Ackerman.
Quarterback Billy Volek, defensive lineman Robaire Smith and safety Scott McGarrahan are expected to become unrestricted free agents at midnight Tuesday.