The case for (and against) each Titans receiver fighting for a roster spot

Eight receivers, a maximum of four spots.

The Titans have a good kind of problem on their hands in the receiver room this offseason; too many players with a good reason to stay. Unfortunately, they can’t keep them all. Unless they decide to keep an extra receiver and roll with seven, five of the following players won’t make the final 53-man roster.

I think it’s safe to say WR Josh Reynolds is making this team at this point. He was sought out and signed by the team very early in the offseason, He’s got the third-best pedigree in the room by a comfortable margin, and so far the coaching staff has been treating him like a guy who’s sticking around this season.

Of course, it’s very safe to say A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have the WR1 and WR2 spots locked down. And with that, we’re suddenly left to fill only the fourth through sixth (or perhaps seventh) slots.

So let’s take a look at each candidate individually and see what there is (and isn’t) to like about them:

Racey McMath

At 6’3, 217lbs, 22-year-old Racey McMath was selected by the Titans in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

A part of LSU’s historic team in 2019 and the significantly less impressive unit in 2020, McMath didn’t play a consistent role in the Tigers’ offense. He had only 522 yards on 33 catches in his college career.

GM Jon Robinson took a flier on McMath late in the draft, though, and he’s shown some promise this offseason. Receiving positive reviews from those who’ve seen him work in camp, A.J. Brown even said early on that McMath reminded him a bit of Julio Jones. Not many compliments are bigger than that.

He played a large portion of Tennessee’s first preseason game in Atlanta, seeing 38 snaps. He wasn’t targeted though, and he was somewhat mysteriously kept out of the second preseason matchup in Tampa Bay.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Young, good upside
  • Incredibly cheap
  • Shown promise in camp

Reasons to cut him:

  • Inconsistent history in college
  • Doesn’t appear ready to contribute right away

Dez Fitzpatrick

Jon Robinson traded up in this year’s draft to select WR Dez Fitzpatrick 109th overall. Coming in at 6’2, 208lbs, the 23-year-old out of Louisville impressed at the Senior Bowl in the spring.

His college career was a very solid one, recording 154 receptions for 2589 yards over four years.

Fitzpatrick was the talk of camp early on, though, as he got off to a very slow start. He saw 24 snaps in the first preseason matchup, all coming late in the game, and zero targets. When asked what Fitzpatrick needed to do to see the field earlier and more often, head coach Mike Vrabel said Dez needed to show them “a lot more”.

As if he was feeling the heat of his coach’s comment, Fitzpatrick went on to have a terrible practice that day, dropping three passes in a row. The talk all week leading up to the second preseason game was how it looked like Fitzpatrick may be a bust and how embarrassing that would be for Jon Robinson after trading up to pick him.

Tampa Bay seemed to be where Fitzpatrick may have turned a corner, though.

Recording two receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown, Fitzpatrick showed some promise for the first time in Titans blue.

Asked yesterday about the rookie, QB Ryan Tannehill had this to say:

Reasons to keep him:

  • Moved up to pick him
  • Rookie upside
  • Seems to have made some strides lately

Reasons to cut him:

  • Definitely not ready to contribute right away
  • Started incredibly slow, only just recently showing us any promise

Fred Brown

I’m afraid there isn’t much to say about Fred Brown, as he appears to be the clear odd man out in this bunch.

The 27-year-old comes in at 6’3, 195lbs, and was signed away from the Broncos in the offseason.

Drafted in 2019, Brown played only one game his rookie season and had no catches. His 2020 season was a bit better, playing in 13 games. He had one start in that span, catching two passes for 21 yards.

So far in a Titans uniform, Brown recorded two receptions for ten yards in Atlanta and one reception for seven yards in Tampa Bay.

Brown appears to be the only player in this bunch with no chance of making the roster.

Reasons to keep him:

  • … More NFL experience than the rookies?

Reasons to cut him:

  • Smaller than most of this WR room
  • Lackluster history in the NFL
  • Not flashed much this offseason

Cam Batson

Cam Batson has been with Tennessee for a couple of years now and has some production in two-tone blue to show for it.

At 5’8, 175lbs, the 25-year-old is a speed receiver and special teamer who has played in 23 games over two seasons. Starting three games, Batson had 12 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in 2020.

So far this year, Batson has seemingly improved his game, looking more confident as a receiver. He recorded only one catch for six yards in Tampa Bay but had a 15-yard catch in the first preseason game for a touchdown.

Batson also provides potential returner capabilities, something the Titans have needed for a while.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Familiar with the team and offense
  • Seems to have improved year-to-year
  • Speed could make him valuable on special teams

Reasons to cut him:

  • Very small compared to this WR room
  • Lower ceiling

Mason Kinsey

Mason Kinsey has seen his stock rise more than perhaps anybody else on this list so far this offseason.

The second-year player out of Berry College comes in at 5’10, 198lbs. At only 22 years old, he joined the Titans this offseason after spending time on New England’s practice squad last year.

Kinsey impressed many in training camp, but he really turned it on starting in preseason week 1. His team-leading four receptions for 51 yards put him on everybody’s radar as a real candidate to make this team.

He followed that up with an even better performance in preseason week 2, recording six catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, another team-best evening.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Big flashes all offseason, especially in the first two preseason games
  • Attitude and mentality
  • Young, good upside

Reasons to cut him:

  • On the smaller side
  • Unreliable small-school history

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is another returning Titan. The 24-year-old receiver measures 6’2, 211lbs, a good size for this massive offense.

He played 14 games in 2020 with no starts, catching three passes for 33 yards.

So far this preseason, he hasn’t done much. Westbrooke-Ikhine played only 10 snaps in Atlanta and had one catch for 18 yards in Tampa Bay.

Westbrook-Ikhine received a lot of praise from the Titan’s staff very early in the offseason, when it looked like he may be the Titans’ WR2 for 2021. Tennessee has made a number of moves at WR since then, but he still stands to make this roster because of his value.

That value he brings, something others on this list don’t, is on special teams. Westbrooke-Ikhine was a special team’s ace last season, making a number of splash plays for the team. If he makes this roster, that ability will certainly have played a role in him getting a spot.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Special teams ace
  • Familiar with the team and the offense
  • Good size

Reasons to cut him:

  • Not really flashed much this offseason
  • Lackluster NFL history
  • Seemingly low ceiling

Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson appears to be the most likely lock to make the team in this group.

At least, that’s how the Titans have been treating the 27-year-old so far this preseason. Playing only nine snaps in Atlanta and staying on the sidelines in Tampa Bay, Johnson seems to be getting the “we’ll need you fresh for the real games” treatment.

Unless he’s dealing with some injury we aren’t aware of, Johnson must be in that boat due to the simple fact that he has looked head and shoulders above the crowd in training camp.

Signed over from the Colts in the offseason, the 6’1, 207lb receiver is entering his fifth season in the NFL. Johnson has played in 34 career games with nine starts in Philadephia and then in Indianapolis.

Johnson’s 2020 campaign consisted of 14 receptions for 255 yards in 11 games. He’s coming off of back-to-back 250+ yard seasons. Nothing to write home about, necessarily, but a proven track record as a capable NFL player.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Been the most impressive guy on this list in training camp
  • Serious NFL experience, confirmed capable receiver
  • Good size for this offense

Reasons to cut him:

  • Is a known quantity at this point, not much upside
  • Older than others on this list

Chester Rogers

Chester Rogers may just be the returner the Titans have been looking for, and that skillset might be his ticket to a roster spot.

Like Marcus Johnson, Rogers also joined the Titans from the Colts this offseason. He’s also 27 years old and entering his fifth season.

The 6’0, 184lb receiver opted out of the 2020 season but had six starts in 2019. That year he recorded 16 receptions for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

In his career, Rogers is the most experienced in this group, having played 53 games with 22 starts in Indianapolis. In addition to his 2019 season, he has a 273 yard, 284 yard, and 485 yard season to his name.

In Titans blue, Rogers recorded 1 reception for 17 yards in Atlanta and only eight snaps on offense in Tampa Bay.

But he’s fielded two punts and one kickoff this preseason, and they’ve gone for 57, 14, and 18 yards respectively. His 18-yard kickoff return was actually much bigger than that, only called back due to a very suspect penalty.

Reasons to keep him:

  • Very promising returner, something this team has needed for a while
  • Been very impressive this offseason and in the preseason games
  • Most proven receiver on this list

Reasons to cut him:

  • Is a known quantity at this point, not much upside
  • Older than others on this list

Who I would keep as of today

This will be an incredibly tough decision for the Titans, but here is what the depth chart would look like if I had to make the choice today:

  • A.J. Brown
  • Julio Jones
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Marcus Johnson
  • Chester Rogers
  • Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
  • Mason Kinsey

Yes, I would keep a seventh receiver in order to get Mason Kinsey on this roster. He’s shown too much heart, grit, and potential in the past month to give him up. And of all the guys on the cutting room floor, he is the one that would without a doubt get picked up on waivers. If Tennessee doesn’t give him a roster spot, they’re saying goodbye for good this season.

As for the four to miss the cut—Fred Brown, Cam Batson, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Racey McMath—Brown is the one who hurts the least to see go. Batson has been with the Titans on and off for a couple of seasons now, and as a relatively known commodity in the league, they could hope to sneak him through waivers and onto the practice squad to keep him around.

I realize it would seemingly be a controversial move to cut both wide receivers the team used valuable draft picks on this year. But would it really? Teams cut late-round draft picks more often than you may think. And the modern NFL has seen such an influx of WR talent in the past 5 years that rank-and-file rookies are having a harder and harder time standing out. The hope, because cheap project WR’s are such a dime a dozen, is that Tennessee could sneak one or both players through waivers and onto the practice squad. This way, they could retain their young investments and continue to develop them.

The final cut to a 53-man roster looms large this coming Tuesday, less than a week away.

However the Titans decide to slice it, some talented players that impressed this offseason will hit the cutting room floor.

Who do you think deserves to make the roster? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Easton Freezeis a Nashville native who loves covering the NFL. He is the host of The Hot Read Podcast, and when he isn't watching or covering sports, he's spending time with friends and family.

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