Bill Barnwell from ESPN just released his Five moves each AFC South team should make this offseason piece. Here were his 5 recommended moves for the Titans to make this offseason with my commentary below:
1. Pick up Taylor Lewan's fifth-year option.
This one is fairly obvious, but it would lock Lewan in through the 2019 season in Tennessee. The Titans should definitely do this and I could even see them going ahead and starting long term extension negotiations this offseason.
2. Go after a cornerback.
Again, relatively obvious, but true nonetheless. Barnwell mentions that the Titans don’t have to cut McCourty if they don’t want to thanks to their large amount of cap space this offseason. He also throws out the names of Trumaine Johnson, Stephon Gilmore, and Logan Ryan, who we already profiled here, here, and here, as possible signings that could improve our cornerback group with a nod to Ryan’s ties to Jon Robinson making him a particularly strong candidate.
No mention of Bouye here, but I believe that is because he listed re-signing A.J. Bouye as one of his 5 recommendations for the Texans this offseason. Should Bouye hit the market, he would be my favorite target at corner for the Titans, but any of the top 4 guys mentioned here would be a massive upgrade over Perrish Cox.
3. Sign Martellus Bennett.
This one was a lot more surprising. Barnwell mentions that Delanie Walker is 32 and that the Titans run a lot of two tight end sets as his reasoning behind making this move. I do agree that Bennett is an incredible talent and a huge target at 6’-6” 275 lbs which is something that Mariota really didn’t have last year. He is also a good enough run blocker that he can contribute positively in the ground game as well. He could play the Gronk to Delanie Walker’s Aaron Hernandez role (on the field only obviously) from the great Patriots offense of a few years ago, freeing Delanie to be more of a “move tight end” in our two tight end sets. However, he’s also going to be 30 at the start of next season and really wouldn’t be a long term replacement for Delanie at tight end.
The really interesting option to me here would be to bring in a guy like Bennett and then draft a tight end like Njoku or Hodges who have great upside, but need a little more polishing before they’re ready to become every down players and let them develop for a year or two. That would give us by far the most talented group of tight ends in the league and sets us up to dominate at that position for years to come.
4. Use at least one of your first-round picks to add a defensive lineman.
This is another relatively surprising one. Almost all mock drafts and discussions about the Titans two 1st round picks have centered around defensive backs and wide receivers with a little tight end talk mixed in. Barnwell’s reasoning makes it sound like he’s a little down on DaQuan Jones as a full time starter and that we would do well to find someone to rotate with him now that Karl Klug may not return due to his Achilles injury suffered late last year. As it stands now our defensive end rotation behind Casey and Jones consists of Angelo Blackson and Mehdi Abdesmad so I would agree that we likely need to address this position in some form or fashion, but a 1st round pick seems awfully steep. The only real way I could see this happening would be if we had an astronomical grade on Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas and had already aggressively addressed corner and wide receiver in free agency.
My dream scenario here would be signing Calais Campbell to play opposite Jurell Casey. I could also see us signing a true nose tackle like Brandon Williams, Dontari Poe, or Johnathan Hankins to play inside and allow Austin Johnson to bump in to the strong side defensive end rotation. If we don’t address the defensive line in free agency I would absolutely expect to see a relatively early pick used there in the draft.
This is one that has been kicked around here at MCM a good bit as well and it seems like the group is somewhat divided. I think we all agree that Kline was the weakest link on what was, for the most part, a very strong chain in 2016, but we seem to disagree as to whether that link should be replaced or not. Barnwell states that he thinks both Kline and Spain played well enough to have a chance to hold on to their jobs, but expects the Titans to draft a guard somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft to come in and compete. I tend to agree here. I could see the Titans drafting a center/guard type in the middle rounds to come in and compete with Kline and Tretola at RG.
I doubt that the Titans will get in to the bidding wars that will be coming for the top free agent guards like Kevin Zeitler, T.J. Lang, and Ronald Leary, but they do have the money to do so if they are interested in doubling down on a strength. Zeitler and Leary would be particularly strong fits here.
So what do you guys think about Barnwell’s offseason recommendations for the Titans?