With the season at it's half-way point (kind of sad, isn't it?), it's time to take a look at this year's crop of free agent additions and hand out some arbitrary grades. Remember from last season that the player's contract DOES factor into my evaluation of the player as a whole. I think any kind of assessments done at the NFL level have to include the monetary component. Without further adieu, here is your list of free agent adds.
Charlie Whitehurst, QB (59-98, 764 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs , 93.2 QB Rating)
Whitehurst was not a popular addition to this team when he was brought over to Nashville by the new staff. With a new system being installed, however; the move made sense in that it gave the rest of the players, Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger in particular, a chance to hit the ground running before they were able to be in contact with the coaching staff.
As far as his play on the field, which was more than expected when the season began, Whitehurst was better than solid, posting respectable numbers and getting the Titans to an additional win. Worth noting is that he also leads the team in yards per completion, so he's not been "charlie check-down" either.
Dexter McCluster, RB (24 rushes for 76 yards, 16 receptions for 136 yards)
McCluster was an interesting signing right out the gate in free agency. He was to provide an added dimension to Whisenhunt's scheme in Tennessee, filling into the much-mentioned "Danny Woodhead" role. Things haven't ended up that way. McCluster hasn't been on the field even close to the snaps that Woodhead commanded a season ago, and his production has been lackluster as well. McCluster is yet to score as a Titan, and his match-up advantages against linebackers in the passing game hasn't been exploited much at all. On top of that, the Titans paid for his pro-bowl caliber services as a return man, where he has averaged a pedestrian 7.3 yards per return this year to date.
Wesley Woodyard, ILB (49 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions)
The former Broncos linebacker was signed to a cap-savvy deal that, like McCluster's contract, included plenty of incentives. Woodyard was used as a rotational backer in the Broncos scheme, and the Titans attempted to force him into a more every-down role, a role made vital when Zach Brown went down a few snaps into the season. The results in the running game haven't been ideal, but Woodyard has still been able to redeem himself in coverage, with two interceptions to his credit. The emergence of rookie ILB Avery Williamson has helped ease Woodyard out of the running down role some, which should pay dividends for his play down the stretch.
Michael Oher, RT (four sacks allowed)
Oher had his fare share of troubles in Baltimore, and those have continued in Tennessee. Who would have thought? While the Titans did splash the cash for him, so to speak, it was front-loaded, which makes cutting him an affordable prospect should he continue to disappoint. In eight games, Oher ranks near or dead last in most offensive linemen metrics, and has not been able to open running lanes on his side of the line, where the Titans are averaging less than 3 yards per carry. This has been a poor signing from the get go.
Shaun Phillips, OLB (16 tackles, 1 sack)
The Titans brought in Shaun Phillips to bolster their pass rush. As a veteran who has recorded 20+ sacks in his past two seasons, this seemed a given. I thought it was an excellent move to give the team a shot in the arm and some added, proven leadership. It hasn't worked out that way. Phillips has been a situational player and hasn't been productive as a pass rushing threat. The Titans need more out of him in that department, or he won't be on the team come next summer.
Al Woods, NT (14 tackles)
Woods was a little high priced for me out of Pittsburgh, especially for a guy who had only 12 career tackles to his name. But he has proven a valuable add, even if only as part of a heavy rotation. Woods is a solid guy who can anchor against the run, and has played fairly well there when he's gotten on the field. He's no spring chicken at 27 years old, but then he's not an old vet either. With me, his $2.5 million/yr cap number keeps his grade from being anything excellent.
Derek Hagan (5 catches for 85 yards, 1TD)
Personally I preferred Marc Mariani / Michael Preston over Derek Hagan, but he earned a spot on the roster with a stellar camp where he caught everything thrown his way. Obviously he has played sparingly as a 5th WR, but Hagan has again made the best of his chances. Not a game changer by any means, but the front office did well to bring him in and game him a fair shot of making the roster. He's solid insurance for the Titans at this point.
Quentin Groves, OLB (6 tackles)
Groves was an in-season addition to the Titans. He brings some experience with Horton's scheme, having played for the DC in Cleveland. He provides little more than that as a member of the Titans, but has played solidly on special teams. There's not much more to expand on than that.