As the 2013 NFL Free Agency period begins, the crop of veteran DE's is deep and diverse, but the top few targets for the Tennessee Titans are pretty clear: John Abraham, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Bennett. Any of those three would be an immediate asset to an up-and-coming front seven that needs a serious edge rusher, but the youngest of that group, Michael Bennett, already has a nifty connection to the Titans coaching staff.
It turns out that Keith Millard, who was brought in last year to coach up our pass rushers, made quite an impact on Bennett during his one-year stint as a defensive assistant in Tampa Bay. In a recent interview with a Tampa radio station, Bennett said he still talks to Millard frequently, and that he'd, "love the opportunity to be coached by Keith."
While that's certainly no guarantee that a deal gets done, it's a very good sign that the Titans will get a seat at the table if they want one. Bennett will command good money, but the Titans are walking into free agency with roughly $12 million in cap space, and the ability to double that should they choose to cut expendable veterans like Hasselbeck, Hutchinson and Amano.
While I still like Abraham as the best pure 4-3 DE pass rusher and veteran leader on the market, Bennett is clearly the best young end out there. Also, he's got the big body, experience at DE and DT and ability to dominate against the run that Gray wanted when he first got here.
The bidding for Bennett could get too rich for our taste, but if the price is right, the relationship between Millard and Bennett just might help land one of the prizes of the free agency pool.
Add Levitre, plus maybe one more affordable safety, and the Titans will have put themselves in the position to go wherever the talent takes them when the draft begins.