NASHVILLE — New Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon started clearing up some much-needed salary cap space Wednesday.
The Titans announced they released three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan for a failed physical and also released veteran wide receiver Robert Woods and kicker Randy Bullock. They later released linebacker Zach Cunningham also for failing a physical.
Lewan, the 11th pick overall in the 2014 draft out of Michigan, tore his right ACL last September. He tore the same ACL in 2020 and has played only 20 games combined over the past three seasons. The nine-year veteran had been due $14.8 million in the final year of his contract.
He started 100 of 105 games played for Tennessee. His podcast “Bussin’ With the Boys” announced his release on social media, and Lewan, who turns 32 in July, retweeted the post with his own message to Titans’ fans.
“I hope I did enough to create something all the titan fans can be proud of, I love you all,” Lewan wrote.
The Titans started Wednesday approximately $23.5 million over the salary cap of $224.8 million for the 2023 season, a number they must reach by the start of free agency March 15. Only Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tampa Bay had worse cap situations, according to Spotrac.com.
These are just the start of the changes for Tennessee, which led the NFL for most players used because of injuries in each of the past two seasons. The Titans (7-10) couldn’t overcome those injuries in 2022, missing the playoffs on a season-ending, seven-game skid.
These four moves resulted in a swing of $37.9 million, creating approximately $11.3 million of cap space for their top 51 players per Spotrac.com. Lewan and Woods had been set to carry the sixth and seventh-highest salary cap hits for the team in the 2023 season.
Lewan’s release has been expected since he tore his ACL last September and was placed on injured reserve.
Woods, acquired from the Rams by trade last offseason, led the Titans with 53 catches for 527 yards with two touchdowns. He started 15 of 17 games, but was due $13.7 million in base salary with a cap hit of $14.6 million. His release cost the Titans only $2.6 million in dead cap money.
The receiver, who turns 31 in April, wrote on social media “Free” after being released.
“Where should I go,” Woods wrote as a follow-up with a couple of emojis.
Bullock appeared in 31 games the past two seasons. He had been due $1.64 million in the final season of the two-year deal he signed last offseason, and releasing the 33-year-old kicker from his sixth NFL team saves the Titans $2.6 million against the cap with a $600,000 dead cap cost.
His release apparently frees up the kicker job for Caleb Shudak, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Iowa that the Titans kept around after he hurt his kicking leg in June. He appeared in one game for Tennessee, making three of his four field goals.
The Titans originally claimed Cunningham, the 57th overall pick in the 2017 draft, off waivers in December 2021 from Houston. He played four games that season as Tennessee wrapped up the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a 12-5 record.
But an elbow injury limited him to six games in 2022, and he finished with only 23 combined tackles, one quarterback pressure and one pass defended. His release saved the Titans a cap hit of $8.9 million.