NASHVILLE — Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson has a long offseason to-do list ahead of the 2021 season. In his sixth season at the helm, Tennessee’s player personnel boss has his priorities straight.
The NFL’s free agency period begins at 3 p.m. CT on March 17.
Robinson joined my 104.5 The Zone radio show on Wednesday to discuss the Titans approach ahead of what promises to be an interesting week for the league. Veteran players with high salary cap figures in 2021 across the NFL will be available in a way unlike any other this season. Due to the constraints COVID-19 has had on 2020 finances, Robinson and Tennessee cap wizard Vin Marino have had to prepare multiple models to plan for free agency.
Titans Free Agents First
Tennessee has 20 unrestricted free agents hitting the market this month. Robinson’s priority is to focus on his guys first.
As for asking some of the current players on the Titans roster to restructure their existing deals?
“We haven’t gone there yet,” said Robinson. “We’re trying to get a couple of our guys back whose contracts were set to be up. Not to say that we wouldn’t venture down that road, but you’re converting Paragraph 5 money, salary-wise, to signing bonuses and spreading that out over future years and kicking the can down the road a little bit. We’re trying to be mindful of that because, at some point, you’ve got to pay the piper and there are some teams that have done that in the past that are bearing the brunt of that now.”
“Paragraph 5” money is more commonly referred to as a player’s base salary. It is the compensation a player receives during the regular season. The collective bargaining agreement set league minimums for base salaries. A player’s “game check” is 1/17th of his base salary.
Robinson wants to get his pending free agent house in order before asking players for cash back. Tennessee cornerback Malcolm Butler and left tackle Taylor Lewan would be prime candidates, though.
Robinson’s financial boon
On Thursday, ESPN’s Field Yates reported an important development for the Titans and every other NFL team.
The league has finalized its club adjustments and financial carryover for the 2021 league year. The amount for each team is added to league-wide salary cap and serves as each team’s adjusted cap number, per Yates. With a floor of at least $180 million to work with, Tennessee can breathe a little easier.
Club-adjusted finances for 2021 give the Titans $8,045,697 to spend, up from $1,466,239 prior to the carryover.
Robinson will still have to do some monetary gymnastics to build the kind of contender Tennessee needs. His priorities lie, first and foremost, with getting the Titans players whose contracts are up extended where he can.
No small task in a second COVID-19 offseason.
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