Titans Free Agency; Did they get better?

By Ben Babcock

 

Offseason Grade:

Answer: A little

 

Another big spender this offseason, the Titans spent the 4th most of all teams and really only on four guys. Spending about $121 million on Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, Josh Kline, and DaQuan Jones. They continue to add to their young roster while not losing much of it, but they won’t be able to keep spending like this if they hope to hold onto those young players in the next couple years. And with rookie head coach Mike Vrabel taking over, I really don’t know how these guys will pan out.

Offensively they basically just swapped out Demarco Murray and replaced him with Dion Lewis. These two are very similar receiver type running backs. Murray has produced more over his career but has been very inconsistent, and I think they will get that consistency out of Lewis as a complementary receiving back to power back Derrick Henry. They also really seemed to beef up the guard position, bringing back Josh Kline on a long-term deal and Quinton Spain and Kevin Pamphile on 1-year deals. They also signed two more quarterbacks, Blaine Gabbert and Joe Webb. Starter Mariota has had injury issues his entire career so it’s a good move to add backups, but having four quarterbacks on the lineup isn’t always ideal. The only issue with what they did offensively was that they let half their wide receiver core walk. Eric Decker, Harry Douglas, and Eric Weems all became free agents this offseason and the Titans haven’t re-signed any of them. Douglas and Weems only had 1 reception each last season so I can understand not bringing them back, but Decker was their second leading wide receiver in 2017 with 563 yards. This leaves them very thin at the position, with only Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis as their only receivers with more than 20 receptions last season. So I’d expect them to draft another receiver this year and for Taywan Taylor to be used significantly more now that he is their 3rd option at wide receiver.

Defense is where they really keep improving, which makes a lot of sense seeing that their new head coach is a linebacker in the NFL and has only been a defensive coach before this. Their defensive backs are looking pretty stacked on paper, they brought in cornerback Malcolm Butler on a big 5-year, $61 million contract. Butler didn’t have his best year in 2017 with New England but is still regarded as one of the better corners in the league. This now gives them a very strong trio of corners in Butler, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson. Along with Jonathan Cyprien and Kevin Byard at strong safety and free safety, they have a very good looking secondary. They signed linebacker Will Compton to a 1-year deal, it’s unlikely he’ll start on defense right now, he just adds depth to a decently solid group of linebackers. After losing Avery Williamson to free agency they could still use some help at linebacker though. Bringing back DaQuan Jones is also a good move, keeping their front four strong. Jones had 3.5 sacks last season and given the amount of money they’re paying him it seems like they expect him to improve and keep producing like that.

Going into the draft, it would seem that the Titans biggest need is at wide receiver, along with a linebacker given that fact that Woodyard and Orakpo are both 31. But with the no.25 spot in the draft, the top receivers may already be taken, and since there are plenty of defensive prospects in this, they will most likely go for a linebacker/pass rusher in the first round. LB Rashaan Evans would be a great fit for Tennessee if he falls to them, and the same goes for Leighton Vander Esch. If not a linebacker than they take an edge rushers like Sam Hubbard or Josh Sweat. Overall the Titans are pretty solid all around, they just have some of their top players entering their 30’s so they need to mix in some youth with that to stay solid. I really like how their defense looks right now. The only question will be the offense with not much depth at WR and new head coach Mike Vrabel.

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