After going through all the salary cap data over the last couple of days, I figured I’d post a series of position previews as we head into the off-season because we have some interesting decisions to make across the board given the current pay structure for our team. My numbers reflect my understanding as at 2 Jan 2013, which has 48 players under contract for 2013 at a total cap hit of $106.9m. I have no doubt this isn’t 100% correct, but it should be close enough for some rudimentary evaluation. Quarterback 2013 Cap hit for all QB’s – $11.536m (10.7% of team spend) Players under contract: Jake Locker (6’3”, 241) – 24 years old 2013 Cap Number - $3.432m ($1.519m salary + $1.913m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $3.994m ($2.091m salary + $1.913m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – UFA Matt Hasselbeck (6’4”, 225) – 37 years old 2013 Cap Number - $7.5m ($5.5m salary + $2m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – UFA Rusty Smith (6’5”, 226) – 25 years old 2013 Cap Number – $0.604m ($0.575m salary + $0.029m pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – UFA 3 burning questions 1. Is Jake the Answer? This one really trumps every other question at every other position. They have no option but to ride this horse and after just 11 starts in two seasons, it is way too early to say either way. 2. Can the team afford to keep Hasselbeck? $5.5m base salary in 2013 is one of the highest on the team. Depending on how much of a splash we are looking to make in free agency, I am sure the team is looking at the potential to re-invest those $$ elsewhere 3. 3. Can the team afford to let Hasselbeck go? This question is as much about Rusty as it is about Matt. Hasselbeck is 37 years old and certainly has lost some arm strength, but if Jake does progress and we are in the midst of a winning season, we would certainly need a back-up that can help the team win a game or two if Jake gets dinged up. Free Agency: Depends on what we do with Matt, but I don’t see us being a player early in Free Agency. Some potential cheaper backup QB options: Matt Moore Brady Quinn Derek Anderson Drew Stanton Chase Daniel Matt Leinart Potential Cap Casulaties Michael Vick Matt Cassel Carson Palmer Matt Flynn Kevin Kolb Potential Draft Targets: Certainly not an early round priority, but selecting a developmental QB late is not out of the question. Some late round options: Matt Scott, Arizona Jeff Tuel, Washington State Sean Renfree, Duke Summary It is clear that our hopes at this position hinge almost entirely on Jake’s growth. The interesting twist from a contract perspective is that as a rookie Jake only signed a 4 year deal as he was under the new CBA, whereas previous high round QBs typically signed a 6-year deal (like Ryan, Stafford, Bradford, Flacco etc). This means that from a contractual stand-point we will have a major decision to make with Jake in 12 months time. He needs to either be extended next year, or we have to be prepared to move on. We can’t go into the last year of his contract without a long term deal in place if he is truly our franchise QB. My take The only real decision the Titans have is what to do with Hasselbeck, given his salary for a back-up QB. Early days of Free Agency will be the key here. If the team is aggressive in pursuing high caliber free agents, then Matt could be a cap casualty. I think it is unlikely. I expect the 3 QBs to remain on the roster for 2013 and Rusty given the opportunity to take more reps in pre-season to see if he is a viable number 2. UPDATE TWO WEEKS OUT FROM DRAFT Replacing Hasselbeck with a younger and cheaper version in Fitzpatrick was a great move to bolster this position. Fitz is on a 2-year contract and with Rusty still on the roster, I don't expect us to touch QB in the draft this year. The guys listed above are still candidates for 7th rd/UFA and a strong-armed QB like Renfree (who is coming off injury) would be a good prospect to evaluate at camp.