NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Owner Tommy Smith has made it clear he thinks the Tennessee Titans need a few more players.
He wants to spend big money when free agency starts Tuesday, just not as much as a year ago when his late father-in-law approved more than $100 million in new contracts.
"Tommy's committed to doing what it takes to win, so we're definitely working through that," general manager Ruston Webster said Friday.
The Titans are trying to bounce back from a 7-9 season and end a five-year playoff drought with new coach Ken Whisenhunt. They had 13 players poised to become free agents Tuesday after signing three to new deals over the past couple weeks. Free agency is where they will add a few more players for Whisenhunt's offense and a hybrid 3-4 defense they plan to run.
"It's part of the process as we continue to try to improve our football team and get better," Webster said. "We want to put a good product on the field for our fans, and I think everybody around here is ready to win and wants to win. But we also want to do it the right way."
The Titans could free up more money for free agency by releasing Chris Johnson, but they are in no hurry to make a decision on the running back due $8 million in 2014. He has three seasons left on the $53.5 million contract extension he signed Sept. 2, 2011. Unlike a year ago, the Titans face no deadline for a decision except the start of this season.
Johnson is coming off his second-worst rushing performance with 1,077 yards and a career-low 3.9-yard average. He has never missed a game because of injury and also caught 42 passes for 345 yards with a combined 10 touchdowns in 2013. Johnson had surgery after the season to repair a torn meniscus that he played with most of the season.
"We've said we would want to take our time, and whatever we do is right for the Tennessee Titans," Webster said. "Chris has been a very good player for us and is still a very good player. We just want to make sure we do the right thing for everybody involved."
Johnson's agent, Joel Segal, had no immediate comment Friday.
The Titans have visited with linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who was recently cut by Cleveland. But their only big moves have been signing safety Bernard Pollard and defensive end Ropati Pitoitua. Pollard was rewarded Monday with a two-year deal after the eight-year veteran posted a career high in tackles. Pitoitua got his own multi-year deal Friday after a career year with 13 starts, 91 tackles and four sacks.
Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner appears headed for free agency and another team coming off his five-interception season. The four-year, $32 million deal for Brent Grimes in Miami set the bar high for cornerbacks, and the Titans already are paying big money to Jason McCourty and safety Michael Griffin.
Receiver Kenny Britt isn't expected back after he was inactive for four games and dropped more balls than he caught with five receptions for 58 yards last season.
Webster said the Titans still have some players they'd like to keep from last year before free agency starts.
"We'll see how that goes," Webster said.
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