I've been giving a lot of thought about how the Titans should go about this offseason, and I've come up with a plan. This plan is based mostly on what I would do, but I also took into account what I think the Titans are likely to do.
This team was 9-7 last year and was one game away from going to the playoffs. That, and the fact that the Titans have several young starters or potential starters (Jake Locker) already in place, gives reason for great optimism here in Tennessee.
There were two main weaknesses and one minor weakness to this team that really hurt last year.
The first weakness I would address is the lack of a pass rush. I do like the Titans new defensive scheme and I think it will be very effective, but we MUST add some DEs that can rush the passer. I really think that Derrick Morgan has a breakout season in him and hopefully that season comes in the 2012-2013 season. But we can't count on that. I think we need to sign one of the big 3 DEs available in free agency. My pick would be DE Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions. He'll be 26 this coming season and is coming off a double digit sack season. There is a chance that he could get the franchise tag. If that happens I would pursue Mario Williams, Robert Mathis, and possibly even John Abraham. I think we should spend 8-10 million a year to make this happen, especially for Avril or Williams.
The next weakness I would address is lack of a strong running game. There appears to be two main reasons why this happened in 2011. It appears RB Chris Johnson may not have been in total football shape, and the interior blocking was horrid. CJ did pick it up late in the year, so hopefully with a full offseason with the team, that part will take care of itself. The blocking can be fixed pretty easily by letting G Jake Scott leave and signing a veteran C to replace him. This team had a great running game when veteran Kevin Mawae was manning the middle of the Titans O-line. The center I would pursue is Scott Wells from the Green Bay Packers. He has won a Super Bowl and is a team leader. I would easily spend 6-7 million a year to make this happen. Chris Myers and Nick Hardwick would be worthy of manning the middle here if a deal could not be struck with Wells.
The third and not so noticeable weakness was the lack of a veteran WR when Kenny Britt went down. Last offseason Mike Munchak said he would like to add a veteran presence at WR and the Titans flirted with Jerricho Cotchery and Derrick Mason but did not strike a deal with either. It is my personal opinion that if either of those players had been on the team when Britt went down, the Titans would have won at lest one more and maybe two more games. Well, the Titans now have a chance for some free agent redemption as Jerricho Cotchery is available again this offseason. This guy, playing for the Steelers, came up big when needed and didn't hold back the young WRs there from developing. He also accepted his role and was a team leader. I don't want to hold Damian Williams back, but if Britt were to go down again, I would like one more viable option to help replace him. With all the good WRs available in free agency, the supply will be greater than the demand and the Titans should be able to get this done for 1-2 million dollars a year. Other options here would be Eddie Royal and Hines Ward.
Those would be the 3 main moves I would make. Moves in other areas would be:
D-line: I think we let Jason Jones walk - he's gonna get big money somewhere. I do think we need to bring back either Dave Ball or William Hayes, just to have some depth and someone who knows the current scheme. A deal near the veteran minimum should get one of these guys back in here.
Secondary: Letting Cortland Finnegan walk is what will allow us to sign the DE and the C. I would franchise S Micheal Griffin, the tag is 6.2 million and it would allow him one more year with DC Jerry Gray. It would also help keep some stability with the loss of Finnegan. I would re-sign Jordan Babineaux and team him with Grif. I'm thinking 3-4 mil gets that done. I would also look to add a free agent CB and S. Guys who can play in nickel and dime packages and add depth and play special teams. If we commit about 2 mil for each of these reserve guys, we should be able to find some good value after the first wave of free agency. (In case you're wondering, I love Alterraun Verner taking over the Finnegan role of starting outside and then moving inside in the nickel package. And I think we could see Tommie Campbell breakout in 2012-2013 being that guy off the bench.)
Round 1 - DE or S
Round 2 - DE or S
Round 3 - WR
Round 4 - G
Round 5 - CB
Round 6 - DT
Round 7 - DE
So, that's the plan..........Tell me what you think or what you would do different.