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A roadmap to Titans 2018 free agency

Everything you need to know about the Titans offseason.

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

I had nearly forgotten how abrupt a playoff loss feels. One moment you’re at the center of the NFL conversation and within games of reaching the sport’s biggest stage. The next moment the season is over and we’re staring down the barrel of a long offseason. For a long time, I preferred the offseason to the season as a Titans fan. I could at least trick myself in to finding hope again during the offseason.

“If Vince Young could just get his head on straight...”

“If Jake Locker could just stay healthy...”

“If the Titans could just find a wide receiver...”

“Dowell Loggains should really help Locker’s development...”

“Ken Whisenhunt is an offensive guru...”

“Exotic Smashmouth...”

After two seasons of winning football — just barely, but it still counts — I’m finally back to loving actual Titans football more than the hopes and dreams of the offseason. That’s a pretty big step in the right direction for a franchise that hadn’t delivered meaningful games to their fans in almost a decade.

The Titans decision to move on from Mike Mularkey* was a surprise — it’s pretty rare for a head coach to get fired following a playoff appearance no matter how bad their offense was — and the theme of this offseason will now revolve around who the Titans hire as their new head coach.

*Fun Mularkey Fact: If you throw out games as interim coach, Mularkey recorded the highest winning percentage of any Titans/Oilers head coach since Jack Pardee, narrowly edging Jeff Fisher 0.563 to 0.551.

While we are going to be focused on the coaching search for the next couple weeks, I thought it would be worth checking in on the player personnel side of the offseason. Jon Robinson — with input from the new coach — will have a lot of important roster decisions to make over the next two months. Free agency with a new hire is often pretty interesting. Most bring in players that they are familiar with or that their staff is familiar with from previous stops — these players are important because they not only can act as pseudo-assistant coaches as players learn a new scheme, but they also vouch for the new coach with other players — so once we start to see the new staff fill out, that will give us a hint as to where the team might look in free agency.

In the meantime, here are some of the big decisions that we know the Titans will be facing this offseason.

Titans Cap Situation

As things stand right now the Titans are projected to be roughly $25M under the projected 2018 NFL Salary Cap of $176M (per Spotrac) before they re-sign any of their own free agents. They can also roll over an additional $30M of unused space from the 2017 season which leaves their total cap room at about $55M for the 2018 offseason. That ranks as the 10th most space in the NFL behind the Browns, Niners, Colts, Jets, Bucs, Vikings, Texans, Lions, and Redskins.

The Titans cap situation is strong and that is important as they approach Marcus Mariota’s second contract. That contract likely gets done in the 2019 offseason and will remove some of the financial wiggle room that GM Jon Robinson currently enjoys. Teams without highly paid quarterbacks are able to take some bigger swings in free agency because they have a margin for error built in. That’s why the Jaguars have been able to spend like crazy every offseason for so long.

With that $55M the Titans will have to sign their 2018 draft picks which will probably eat about $5-6M of that space. The rest will be available to re-sign players, extend current contracts, or sign outside free agents.

Titans Free Agents

These are the Titans current players who are not under contract for 2018 right now. Unless labeled otherwise, these guys are all unrestricted free agents which means they are free to sign with any team they choose when the league year ends and free agency opens on March 14th. However, if the Titans are going to bring these guys back it is likely that they work out a deal between now and then.

Avery Williamson, ILB - I was a little surprised last offseason when the Titans chose to extend Wesley Woodyard’s deal rather than Williamson’s. Williamson had supplanted Woodyard as the team’s every down inside linebacker by the end of his rookie season in 2014 and it certainly appeared that the team’s long term plan was to build around Williamson and phase Woodyard out. However, 2017 has flipped that dynamic. Woodyard is now the every down linebacker with Williamson being subbed off when the team goes to nickel in favor of Jayon Brown. So where does that leave Williamson moving forward?

PFF still rates him as one of the better inside linebackers in the NFL, particularly as a run stopper. There is no doubt that he and Woodyard are a formidable duo inside for opposing ground games, but the Titans continue to struggle covering backs and tight ends and that is something that has always been a weak spot in Williamson’s game. He and Woodyard both have been guilty of being too easily manipulated by play action this season — a side effect of selling out to stop the run — and that leaves the Titans exposed in the secondary. If you want a reason for why the Titans’ corners and safeties seem to be playing much better but the team is still leaking passing yards up and down the field, this is a good place to start.

The decision here comes down to many factors. How much money/opportunity could he get elsewhere? What do the Titans think of Jayon Brown? What defense does the new coaching staff run and how does Williamson fit in to their style? Does he want to be back in Tennessee? He is probably the player hurt the worst by moving to a 4-3 base defense if that ends up being the direction taken by the new staff. He simply doesn’t have the range or cover skills required to play the Mike or Sam spots in a 4-3. If that’s the direction of the defense, my guess is that Williamson is not retained.

Quinton Spain, LG (RFA) - Spain is one of two restricted free agents the Titans have to make a decision on this offseason. If you need a brush up on restricted free agents (RFA’s) and the rules around them, you can check that out here. The Titans will hold all the leverage with an RFA like Spain at the negotiating table. With Josh Kline set to be an unrestricted free agent — more on him in a second — it seems likely that the Titans bring Spain back on a team-friendly deal despite his struggles this season. I suspect a lot of his regression has been related to the turf toe injury that cost him a few games in the middle of the season. Outside of the games he played hurt, he’s still been the Titans best interior lineman. I’m not sure that he will be guaranteed a starting job — especially under a new staff — but I think he will be brought back and given a chance to compete for a starting job.

Josh Kline, RG - Kline is the less likely of the two guards to be back next year in my opinion. While he started the year with a couple of his best games as a Titan, he has regressed back to his typical average play over the remainder of the season. This quote from former Titans personnel man Blake Beddingfield is still telling to me with regards to how the team views Kline.

“The two guards are solid. Actually the left guard, Quinton Spain, is a real solid player, the right guard is more of a journeyman type player, really a 6th offensive lineman on most teams, but because he’s in the middle of Jones and Conklin he can survive and did a nice job last year.”

Both Jones and Conklin have regressed from their 2016 form around him and that has exposed Kline at times. I wouldn’t expect him to generate a ton of demand on the open market so there is a chance the Titans bring him back on a cheap deal while they seek out competition from other free agents or the draft — or both. He does offer the ability to play center in addition to guard so that gives him a little extra value as a potential backup. With a new coaching staff and a new offensive scheme coming in, a lot of the decisions around the guards will come down to how they want to play. Kline is much more a technician than a mauler so his future here really relies heavily on fit as well as whether or not the team can find an upgrade through free agency or the draft.

Eric Decker, WR - This is a tough call. Decker’s play really elevated over the last stretch of the season as he continues to distance himself from the injuries he had surgery to fix last offseason and he’s clearly starting to develop a rapport with Marcus Mariota. There is a value to continuity in the passing game and having a familiar set of weapons to start a new season for the first time in his NFL career could be a huge help to rebooting the quarterback’s development.

Decker will be 31 next season and is unlikely to get a ton of outside interest, but he’s another guy that will rely on fit. The new coaching staff will be using more 11 personnel — I can confidently say this because it’s near impossible to run less — so more receiver snaps will be available next season. It really will depend on what type of slot receiver the new staff prefers. Do they want a big, physical guy like Decker or a speedy, run after the catch guy like Taywan Taylor? I like the idea of bringing Decker back on another one year deal to give you some options at the wide receiver position.

DaQuan Jones, DE/NT - Jones tore his biceps Week 13 which ended what was shaping up as a very strong contract season for the big run-stuffing lineman. He’s never going to be a big time pass rusher, but Jones is a prototypical 3-4 defensive end who has credibly filled in at nose tackle from time to time as well. He’s a valuable part of what has been a very strong Titans run defense over the past few years and I would think the Titans would want him back. However, Austin Johnson has played very well in his place since Jones went down and gives the team a capable replacement already on the roster if Jones or the team decide to move on.

Ryan Succop, K - Succop has been steady for the Titans for four years now and given the state of kicking in the NFL elsewhere, “steady” is a valuable commodity. He’ll be 32 at the beginning of next season so he’s got plenty left in the tank. I would expect him to be back.

Erik Walden, OLB - Walden is very much a 3-4 outside linebacker so his return would only be possible if the team sticks with that type of base defense. He’s definitely not a 4-3 defensive end and I can’t really see him being effective as a Sam linebacker either. If the Titans do stick in the 3-4 front, he would be a good fit to return as Brian Orakpo’s primary backup. I would expect the Titans to pursue pass rushers in the draft regardless of scheme so there is a chance that Walden’s services are no longer needed after the draft, but right now he is clearly the best backup outside linebacker as questions linger around young guys Kevin Dodd, Aaron Wallace, and Josh Carraway.

Brice McCain, CB - McCain has been flat out awful this year and at age 31, he’s definitely on the downslope of his career. The cornerback group will be led by Logan Ryan, Adoree Jackson, and LeShaun Sims next year, but beyond those three the Titans will have some decisions to make. Tye Smith has made an impression on special teams and excelled when given extended snaps against the Rams in Week 16. He figures to be in the mix as well as former Mr. Irrelevant, Kalan Reed. The Titans likely need to draft another corner at some point in 2018, although the need is not nearly as severe as it was this time last year. There doesn’t seem to be any upside to keeping McCain around any longer.

Harry Douglas, WR - There is a 100% chance that the Browns first free agent signing is Harry Douglas if Mularkey ends up as their offensive coordinator, right? Either way, we’ve almost certainly seen his last game as a Titan.

Eric Weems, WR/ST - Weems has been a valuable special teamer for the Titans. While he hasn’t made any splash plays — outside of the odd 8 yard shovel pass reception — it has to be noted that the Titans coverage units and return units all showed marked improvement from 2016 to 2017 and he was a part of that. However, he’s also going to be 33 when the next season starts and was originally expected to handle return duties when he was signed (prior to Adoree Jackson being drafted). I believe he can be credibly replaced with younger, cheaper, higher upside talent.

David King, DE - The Titans traded a conditional 7th round pick to the Chiefs in return for King at the end of the 2017 preseason, but he’s only played about 10% of the team’s defensive snaps and hasn’t contributed much on special teams either. King gets a little bump in his chances of being re-signed if the team moves on from DaQuan Jones, but he seems to be a guy who will be on the roster bubble in camp if he does come back.

Brandon Weeden, QB - If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that a backup quarterback can make or break your season. Quality backups like Case Keenum and Nick Foles will be guiding playoff teams in the next few weeks. Jacoby Brissett kept the Colts at least competitive at times despite a woefully depleted roster around him. Jimmy Garappolo netted the Patriots a 2nd round draft pick (and they should have gotten more). On the other hand, the Texans’ season spiraled in to the abyss when Tom Savage took the helm. Brett Hundley, Jay Cutler, and Blaine Gabbert all failed to keep their teams in the hunt after being called in to action. But none of them were as bad as Matt Cassel was in Week 4 and 5.

The Titans absolutely, 100% HAVE to address the backup quarterback spot this offseason. Mariota has yet to play a 16 game season, and at least part of his struggles late in the year were due to rushing back from a hamstring injury to save the Titans season from going off the rails. Would he have returned after just one week if the team believed they could win with their backup? We will never know, but it certainly had to factor in to the calculus behind that decision. Weeden probably isn’t the answer either, but I think the team would be wise to bring multiple quarterbacks in to compete for the backup job. Maybe he’s one of them.

Curtis Riley, S (ERFA) - As an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) Riley is stuck here if the Titans offer him a 3 year deal at the veteran minimum salary. If the Titans decide to non-tender him, he would be free to sign elsewhere. Byard and Cyprien are going to be the starting safeties here. Searcy is still under contract for next season as the first guy off the bench so that leaves Riley as the 4th safety. He is a good special teams player and a well-liked guy on the team so he may stick around for a shot at a roster spot.

Demontre Hurst, CB - Hurst was only brought back on the roster to fill numbers when Ryan and Sims went down in the same week. He probably won’t be back.

Brian Schwenke, G/C - Schwenke is a decent backup in the sense that he can play multiple positions and seems like a smart guy who isn’t going to bust a protection with a mental error. However, he’s also just not very good as the Titans found out once again when Quinton Spain went down during the season. The interior of the offensive line is the one spot on offense that is likely to see a lot of movement with regards to personnel this offseason and I can’t imagine Schwenke is a big part of the team’s plans moving forward. I’m sure they would prefer a young guy like Tyler Marz or Corey Levin to come in and take the backup guard spot in 2018.

Possible Extensions/Cuts

These are some guys that have contracts that could possibly be either extended or cut this offseason.

Marcus Mariota, QB - Let’s get this one out of the way first. Mariota is unlikely to get his big money extension this offseason, but the Titans will need to decide if they are going to pick up his 5th year option on his rookie contract. This is a no-brainer. Despite a down year Mariota is still a franchise quarterback-level player and you simply do not let those walk in today’s NFL. The Titans will happily pick up his option for the 2019 season which will pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $25M that year. There is a slim chance that the Titans take the opportunity to lock him up long term this offseason while his value is theoretically somewhat depressed, but I can’t imagine his agent takes the bait on that. His long term extension will likely come during the 2019 offseason prior to the start of his 5th season.

Matt Cassel, QB - Cassel has zero guaranteed money on his contract for 2018 so the Titans can get out of the two year deal they gave him last offseason for free and they should. He simply has no business playing in the NFL at this point, even as a backup.

Taylor Lewan, LT - Lewan’s 5th year option for 2018 was picked up before this past season so he is under contract for one more year. That means that he is due for a long term extension this offseason and he should get one. Lewan has settled in as one of the top tackles in the NFL and he’s one of this team’s most vocal and passionate leaders. Expect him to target an average salary in the $12-13M range which would make him among the top paid offensive linemen in the league, and expect the Titans to pay it. He’s worth it.

Ben Jones, C - On the other hand, Ben Jones is a guy who has seen his play drop off substantially in 2017. He’s a smart and very likable player, but his physical tools are just average at best. Far too often he gets bullied at the point of attack and pushed back in to the back field. He signed a 4 year deal before the 2016 season, but it has a potential out this offseason as he is owed just $1.75M in guarantees over the next two years.

There have been some hints that seem to suggest he might have played much of the later part of the season with an injury that hampered his play and caused some of the low snaps that plagued him late in the year, however none of that has been confirmed. What we do know is that his play wasn’t good enough in 2017 and will need to be better. With both guards on expiring deals it seems more likely that the Titans try to improve at one or both of those spots, but should a talented veteran center come on the market the Titans might be tempted to make a move here. At the very least, I think the team should be getting a “center of the future” ready this offseason. That may be 2017 draft pick Corey Levin, or that could be a new rookie coming in this season.

DeMarco Murray, RB - This will be among the most interesting decisions the Titans have to make this offseason, and the calculus certainly changes with Mularkey gone — its no secret how much love he had for his veteran running back. Murray was great in his first year in two-tone blue, rushing for 1,287 yards and finishing as the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL. After watching the likes of Antonio Andrews and Bishop Sankey lead the Titans backfield for a few years, Murray was nothing short of a revelation in Nashville.

However, 2017 saw a pretty clear regression from the soon-to-be 30 year old back. Injuries have played a big role in that struggle, but he’s been a shell of his former self even when he’s been on the healthier end of the spectrum. Murray was never a super-elusive back. He mostly excelled due to vision, burst, and straight line speed. Those appear to have left him in 2017 which leaves him with just one elite trait: toughness. That’s why the Titans love him so much, but it also can only take you so far.

The Titans have a decision to make with Murray this offseason. He has no guaranteed money left on the 4 year contract he signed back in 2016 which means that the Titans can walk away with no cap hit if they choose to. They could also decide to re-structure his contract to reduce his cap hit and keep him around for another year. I can’t imagine them just continuing to pay $6.5M per year for an aging running back who is already just the 2nd best back on the roster. My hope here is that the Titans draft or sign a young, dynamic pass catching back and move on from Murray. The time is now to give the reigns to Derrick Henry and complement him with a young back who is dynamic in space.

Brian Orakpo, OLB - The 2018 season is Orakpo’s last season under his current contract. He will be 32 years old, but he’s still playing at a high level and is clearly a leader on this team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orakpo extended this offseason likely reducing his cap hit, but adding a year or two more on to the end of his deal. The Titans don’t have a clear succession plan at this position in place on the roster right now. It would be nice if Aaron Wallace or Josh Carraway could have a monster offseason and insert themselves in to the long term plan, but you certainly can’t bank on that happening right now. Orakpo fits in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 so I don’t think his future here is scheme dependent. In fact, you could really argue that he’s a better fit as a 4-3 end — something he played in college at Texas and his first year in the pros in Washington. He put up 11 sacks as a 4-3 end in his rookie year before the team switched to a 3-4 before his second season, and he’s never gotten back to that sack total since.

The Titans may need Orakpo for more than just the 2018 season unless they go out and sign a guy like DeMarcus Lawrence or Ziggy Ansah in free agency — which seems highly unlikely. I think the most plausible scenario is that Orakpo gets a small extension and the Titans invest heavily via the draft at this position so they can allow the newcomers to ease in to a rotation before taking over full time.

Derrick Morgan, OLB - Morgan is in the exact same boat. The Titans drafted Kevin Dodd with the hopes that he would become Morgan’s eventual replacement. However, he’s struggled mightily in his first two seasons. Part of that has been due to a lingering foot injury that cost him most of his rookie year, but he hasn’t shown a ton in limited reps in 2017 either. I think this is a make or break offseason for Dodd and the Titans thoughts on Dodd likely impact what they do with Morgan’s contract.

Morgan will be 29 when 2018 kicks off so he’s a little younger than Orakpo and therefore more likely to be extended in my opinion. He probably has at least 2-3 years left at or around his peak level of performance. Given Dodd’s struggles I think the team would be wise to go ahead and extend Morgan for a few more years this offseason.

Morgan is another guy that probably fits better as a 4-3 defensive end. Like Orakpo, that’s the position he played in college and at the start of his NFL career. He simply isn’t good enough in space to drop in to coverage regularly. He is, however, pretty good as an edge setter against the run and a pretty strong pass rusher. He’s also a great leader in the locker room and a very intelligent player.

Da’Norris Searcy, S - Searcy is heading in to the final year of his 4 year contract signed back in 2015. He’s scheduled to make almost $5M in 2018 which is entirely too much for a backup safety. Searcy has only been on the field for 35.1% of snaps on the season and that number is inflated due to Cyprien’s hamstring injury that forced Searcy and Curtis Riley on to the field during the first half of the season. He’s a very solid third safety, but his value no longer matches his contract which pays him like one of the top starting safeties in the league.

With this being his last year on his deal, the Titans could release him and eat just $1.125M. That would save them almost $4M in cap space. Similar to Murray though, they could decide they want to work out an extension that pays him closer to his current value and adds a couple more years to his deal. The Titans would probably like to have him back. Moving on from Searcy means either signing someone else to come in and back up Byard and Cyprien or drafting a rookie to fill that spot.

Potential Free Agent Targets

My offseason wishlist for the Titans goes like this:

  1. Pass Rusher
  2. Interior OL
  3. Pass Catching RB
  4. Inside LB
  5. Backup QB

I think there is a good chance that the team is relatively quiet in free agency unless they choose not to bring back a lot of their own free agents listed above. If they do make a splash signing, these are a few of the guys that I would be most interested in.

Andrew Norwell, G - This is my favorite free agent target for the Titans this offseason. Yes, a guard. Norwell was an undrafted player out of Ohio State in 2014 who signed with the Panthers and stuck on the roster. Four years later, he’s rated as the 4th best guard in the NFL by PFF and is about to hit the open market. Last season, as a restricted free agent, he received a 2nd round tender from the Panthers so you know they will want him back and its even possible that they would be willing to use the franchise tag to keep him. However, he also hired super agent Drew Rosenhaus last offseason so he will be looking to get paid.

Norwell has a nasty disposition on the field and would fit in perfectly with the personalities on the Titans offensive line. Read this article about him here and tell me this isn’t a match made in football heaven. If the Titans want him, they’ll have to be willing to spend though. Expect Norwell to target Kevin Zeitler’s 5 year, $60M deal from the Browns last offseason as his benchmark.

Justin Pugh, G - Another guy that I would like here quite a bit is Justin Pugh. He is a former 1st round pick of the Giants and he started his career as a tackle, but has been asked to bounce around New York’s terrible offensive line for the last couple years to plug holes as they pop up. He’s done his best work in the NFL at guard and that’s where he would fit for the Titans. The complication right now for Pugh is that his 2017 season ended due to a lingering back issue that would not go away. The good news is that the injury did not require surgery to correct, just rest, but back problems and big guys are not great news typically.

On the other hand, that injury — and the season long struggles it caused for him — may help make him a bargain on the open market. Pugh had consistently been one of the better offensive linemen in the league for his first four years and is known as an exceptionally smart player. He’s another guy that would give the Titans a big boost on the interior of the offensive line.

Jerick McKinnon, RB - McKinnon would be an absolutely perfect fit for the Titans as a long term complement to Derrick Henry. He’s one of the best pass catching backs in the NFL and is dynamic in space. If the Titans move on from Murray, McKinnon would be a fantastic fit and would save the team from having to spend a draft pick on this spot. Minnesota has Dalvin Cook returning and Latavius Murray as a quality backup which would seem to point to McKinnon finding a new home in 2018.

Damien Williams, RB - Williams served as the pass catching back in Miami after being an undrafted player in 2013. He has great initial burst and offers some open field elusiveness that the Titans lack. With Kenyan Drake appearing to take over the Dolphins backfield late in the 2017 season, Williams may look for opportunities elsewhere.

Rex Burkhead, RB - Burkhead has been a valuable piece for the Patriots this year. Versatile enough to serve as a between the tackles runner, a third down back, or a slot wide receiver, he is an extremely valuable complementary back. The Patriots will have both Burkhead and Dion Lewis hitting the open market this offseason so it will be interesting to see what they do. Lewis is the better player and plays a similar role to Burkhead so there is some redundancy there. I would expect at least one of those backs to move on this offseason and both of them would be interesting to me as a complement to Derrick Henry.

Demario Davis, ILB - Davis was the player the Jets got back in their trade that shipped out their former first round pick Calvin Pryor last offseason. He turned out to be a hit in New York, leading the Jets defense with 135 tackles and 5 sacks. He graded out as PFF’s 8th ranked inside linebacker in the NFL for the 2017 season and could be an upgrade from Williamson, particularly if the team moves to a 4-3 defense.

Sheldon Richardson, DT - Richardson is expected to test the free agent market this offseason and could be a fantastic fit next to Jurrell Casey in a 4-3 front if the Titans went that direction. Can you imagine a front four of Orakpo, Casey, Richardson, and Morgan? That group would be a major problem for opposing offenses. Richardson is going to be expensive though and will have suitors all over the league. I like DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson, but Richardson is a game changer inside. He is also a bit of a locker room headache though and the Titans locker room right now is a pretty no nonsense group. Would the talent be worth his risk to the culture the Titans have spent the last two years creating? I’m not sure, but that will be the question with each team that is considering offering Richardson a big contract.

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, EDGE - Two years ago he was expected to become one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL coming off a 14.5 sack, 4 forced fumble 2015 season. However, his 2016 season saw a lingering ankle injury limit his production to just 2 sacks. He bounced back in 2017 with a 12 sack season, coming on strong towards the end of the year in particular. With his rookie contract expiring this year, that would seemingly position him to get a big contract in March, but Ansah was a very old rookie. He will be 29 when the 2018 season kicks off — and there is some speculation about whether or not he’s actually two years older than that — so teams will question how much juice he’s got left at a position that requires elite athleticism. I suspect the Lions will want him back, but you wonder if they’re going to be prepared to use the very expensive defensive end franchise tag on him at this point. His free agency will be one of the more fascinating cases to watch this offseason.

Alex Okafor, EDGE - This is a guy that really fits better in a 4-3 defense, but can play as a 3-4 outside linebacker as well. I will admit to a little bit of bias here as Okafor is a former Longhorn, but he’s also a guy who has steadily elevated his level of play year after year in the NFL. He started out with the Cardinals as a rotational pass rusher, and then signed a one year deal with the Saints this past offseason. In New Orleans Okafor earned a starting job out of camp and was on his way to his best season as a pro prior to suffering a season-ending Achilles tear midway through the year. Unlike Richardson, he’s a guy that fits the team culture of smart, dependable pros who put the team first. There is a good chance he gets the opportunity for a starting gig elsewhere, but I’d love to see him as part of the edge rotation here.

I’ll comment on a couple other guys who I didn’t list here as well. There are some really good receivers hitting the market in 2018 — Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, and Sammy Watkins are the most prominent — but I just can’t imagine the Titans spending big money on a free agent wide receiver. Robinson and Watkins are more proven versions of the guy that the Titans believe they already have in Corey Davis. I suppose the team could look at bringing one of those guys in and bumping either Matthews or Davis in to the slot, but is that really worth the money? Landry would be a good slot receiver replacement for Decker if the team feels like Taywan Taylor isn’t ready for a prominent role, but Landry is going to expect to be fed like a star receiver. Even with more passes available, will there be enough to go around between Davis, Walker, Matthews, and Landry? I think he’d be unhappy quickly.

Star Cowboys defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence, is technically a free agent, but there is a near 100% chance that Dallas gives him the franchise tag if they can’t reach an agreement on a longer deal prior to March 14th. I wouldn’t even consider him a possibility at this point.

Obviously some of this is going to evolve once we learn who the Titans 2018 coach will be and what kind of offensive and defensive schemes they are likely to use, but these personnel decisions will go a long way towards determining how effective that coach is this season and beyond.