Free agency is well underway, and as teams have made moves to (hopefully) benefit their organization, the Tennessee Titans have quietly made some impressive moves of their own.
It is no surprise that General Manager Jon Robinson has made a splash for the third straight year. Robinson has been active in signing ex-Patriots free agents such as Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, and Josh Kline over the years. With another wave of additions, watch out for the Titans as a sleeper to make a playoff run this coming season.
I know what you’re thinking: The Titans making a playoff run? ArE YoU KiDdInG mE?
Not kidding. Let’s dive into why.
Tennessee has been notoriously inconsistent over the past few seasons. One week, they play an immaculate game, the next they lay a rotten egg. Be that as it may, one cannot ignore the talent that they acquired over last year and this year. Titans fans can only hope that the weekly inconsistency stemmed, in part, because of first-year head coach Mike Vrabel’s lack of experience.
Last Year’s Notable Acquisitions
Malcolm Butler led the way as one of the biggest offseason acquisitions of 2018. Everyone and their mom knows that he has the talent to be great. He had a down year coming off of his big payday, but he has the tools to get back to being a top-level cornerback in the league.
Adding to the talent on defence, the Titans leapfrogged the New England Patriots to draft Rashaan Evans; one of the best linebackers in the 2018 draft class. Though he didn’t have an outstanding rookie season, Evans’s presence on that linebacking core should intimidate opposing offences; especially with the next guy on this list. Evans is a guy who can be the leader in the middle of the field for the Titans for years to come.
Harold Landry was an absolute steal in the 2nd round of the 2018 Draft. A guy that was projected as a 1st round talent, fell out of the 1st round on Draft day and the Titans took full advantage by trading up the draft board yet again. Landry was one of the best EDGE players in the draft last year. Coach Vrabel, being a linebacker alumnus of the NFL, had to be drooling when they got these three important players.
The last notable free agent signing that will be addressed was the addition of Dion Lewis. Lewis made a name for himself as a running back for the New England Patriots. His small size and big-play ability made him an attractive option to add to the Titans backfield that had Derrick Henry as their starter. The former Heisman Trophy winner, Henry has failed to take full advantage of his opportunities which compelled the Titans to add a guy who can do it all in Dion Lewis.
There were obviously others, but these four key players were able to add starter-worthy depth to an already very talented team. After a missed playoff opportunity for the Titans, they needed to load up a little bit more on offence in 2019 to really compete in a peaking AFC.
This Year’s Acquisitions
Rodger Saffold was a guard for the Los Angeles Rams, who had one of the best offensive lines in 2018. Saffold will help beef up an already strong offensive line which will open big holes for Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry. Tennessee has often lacked an offensive identity from week to week. It appears that they are finally doubling down on the run-first mentality.
Tennessee battled New England for Adam Humphries and ultimately won. They managed to get one of the hot young receivers on the market locked in for 4 years. Humphries is a wonderful addition to a team who has never put talent opposite of Corey Davis. If they can get another WR and a TE (T.J. Hockenson, anyone?), the Titans will finally have weapons for QB Marcus Mariota and hopefully a functional offence.
Kenny Vaccaro was a low-key signing in August 2018. Vaccaro was a first round pick in 2013 so the traits were there for the Titans to try to salvage the injury-plagued 27-year-old last year. After a productive first year with Tennessee, they inked him to a 4 year, $24 million deal. The Titans now get a starting-calibre safety for relatively cheap and locked in for four years. Adding to the stacked secondary now has the Titans with arguably one of the best defences in pro football, with six draft picks this year to work at adding to it.
The Titans also signed ageing veteran Cameron Wake to a 3-year deal and traded for Ryan Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins. These are two meh signings and don’t require much more analysis. Now that they have Ryan Tannehill, however, they have one of the best back-up quarterbacks in the league, so that is good insurance behind injury-prone Mariota.
The Titans have six draft picks heading into the NFL Draft. It appears that this year’s offseason strategy to date was building on that offence and giving Mariota weapons to throw to. Titans fans can hold onto hope that T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant fall to them to slot behind of the ageing Delanie Walker at tight end.
Tennessee still has a whopping $21 million in cap space heading close to the Draft. If some of that carries over to 2020, they will once again be in great shape cap-wise to add a big-named player (or re-sign Marcus Mariota) if they so choose.
With all the talent on this roster, one hopes that Mike Vrabel will make that leap as a second-year coach and lead this team on a playoff run. It remains to be seen if they will even have the best roster in their division, however, when looking at the highly talented Jacksonville Jaguars and the young Indianapolis Colts.
It will be fun to see this young team battle in the AFC to make it to playoffs with many teams looking to turn the page on a missed opportunity in 2018. Teams like the Browns, Jaguars, Broncos will all be trying to get at least a wild-card, so the race will be a tight one.
Who do you want the Titans to draft in April? Do you think this team will have what it takes to go toe-to-toe against the league’s best? Comment your thoughts!
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