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Titans Free Agent Defensive End Targets: Michael & Michael Have (NO) Issues

Michael Johnson vs. Michael Bennett... who ya got?


Looking back, days before free agency began last year the Titans front office had one player at the top of their board: Texans DE Mario Williams. We'll never know how serious Mike Reinfeldt was about his intentions to outspend the Bills, because apparently our front office was incapable of pursuing Williams while also satiating Bud's appetite for landing Peyton Manning.

As we prepare for the 2013 free agency period, a stud DE is still a huge need for the Titans. Derrick Morgan began to perform with the pas rushing skill he flashed briefly before a knee injury ruined his rookie and sophomore years, and Kamerion Wimbley played well by most accounts, even if it didn't translate into sacks. However, 1.5 really good pass rushing DEs does not a good defense make.

When you look at the 2013 group of DEs who are currently headed for the open market, two names stand out to me: Bucs' big-bodied Michael Bennett and Bengals' JPP look-alike Michael Johnson. These two players started out on opposite ends of the spectrum, with Johnson slipping from a raw 1st round prospect to a 3rd round steal for the Bengals and Bennett going undrafted, eventually signing with the Seahawks (whose VP of Player Personnel was.... Ruston Webster). Hell, if we sign Bennett, then maybe we can snag his brother Martellus to replace Cook once he bolts.

Since then, both players have steadily increased their production, culminating in breakout 2012 campaigns. Bennett saw heavy play at the DE and DT positions in Tampa after Gerald McCoy went down, but his stocky build looks like a good fit for what Jerry Gray has liked so far. Johnson, after a slow start in Cincy, finally found a role bouncing between a conventional hand-on-the-ground DE role, and a standing-up OLB pass rusher. They're both young, well-built pass rushers who could be had at a more reasonable price than Mario Williams would have cost last season.

So, if you're in Webster's position, who ya got?