When the Titans announced the signing of Bernard Pollard, the general consensus was that Tennessee was getting a thumping strong safety that wouldn't be much of a cover man. However, Pollard has turned into so much more than that and terrible losses are masking a great season.
The most overused and misleading stat used by most people today is tackles. While Bernard Pollard is leading the team in tackles, he is actually playing better than his numbers. Pollard is always around the tackle because he takes good angles and never gives up pursuit. That sort of effort and finishing ability is one of the reasons he has been so good for the Titans.
Pollard hasn't made those bone crunching hits that he is famous for (despite being fined by them) but he is anything but soft in the run game. He routinely comes down from his safety position to meet anyone that he can find in the hole. Whether this means taking on a pulling guard, or bulldozing a running back Pollard is an active force in the running game.
It isn't any secret that the Titans defense has been routinely better than the 2012 defense. That increase is as much to do with coaching as it is with new personnel. The Titans have added pieces like Mookie Johnson, Ropati Pitoitua and Moise Fokou but the player that has been the most consistent force is Pollard. While his vocal leadership is most talked about, Pollard is actually the only player besides Jason McCourty to play more than 850 snaps this year.
Leadership isn't just about what you say to the media, or what you do in the locker room, it is also about being on the field. They say the best ability is availability and it is hard to find a person on the Titans roster more available than Pollard.
Despite the knocks on his coverage skills, Pollard has put himself in place for three INTs and eight pass deflections. Both numbers are second on the team behind only Alterraun Verner. Pollard is having one of his best seasons as a cover man, and if Gregg Williams can keep his job I have to believe that Pollard is one of the top players new ownership will want to bring back.
How much will it cost?
This is the rub. If the Titans can keep Pollard in house for around two million per year, I have to think that they lock him down for the next two or three seasons. However, if Pollard wants out or isn't willing to sign without testing the market then the Titans can't wait on him to make their decision.
My gut says that the Titans will have a lot of pieces moving in free agency this year, and regardless of making a move on Jay Cutler, I think they will also be targeting some other big name for the new coaching staff to play with. Whether that player is a pass rusher (like Gregg Hardy, Brian Orakpo, or Michael Johnson) a talented offensive tackle (like Eugene Monroe) or just BPA (Brandon Spikes, Eric Decker or Henry Melton) I think Titans fans will see two big contracts this offseason.