With the season over and a head coach in place, let’s take a break from the coordinator drama and talk about some roster needs. Below, I’ve listed my top five, along with a couple of potentials. I’m sure you’ll all agree with me 100 percent.
Here we go.
1. Pass Rusher
It’s no secret that Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan will be playing out their final seasons of their contracts next year. That might be a good jumping-off point for the Titans with Orakpo turning 32 and Morgan turning 30. Maybe you bring one back at the right price. Regardless, Jon Robinson has to get younger on the edges. Erik Walden was the band-aid that covered up depth issues, stemming from the lack of development from Kevin Dodd.
Tennessee actually ranked 5th in the league in sacks, but plenty of that was due to heavy blitzing from Dick LeBeau. Orakpo and Morgan combined for just 14.5 of Tennessee’s 43 sacks on the season. I think we all feel confident that Dodd isn’t going to be a solution here, either.
It’s time to get younger on the edges. I would expect at least a couple of pass rushers to be added to the mix in some form or fashion.
2. Running Back
DeMarco Murray’s time as a featured back is likely done. With a new staff in place, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Titans move on and save some money there. That’s obviously going to hand the keys to the backfield over to Derrick Henry, who was up and down in 2017.
While I think Henry has what it takes to be the guy going forward, the Titans still need a guy with some quickness to him to help out in specific situations. A change of pace guy would have been a big help to this offense this year, which struggled to find a spark more than a few times last season.
You can find these guys virtually anywhere, but especially in the draft. This class is extremely deep with backs, which is where I would go find one from. You see mid-round backs explode onto the scene just about every year in the NFL, nowadays.
Probably the most shocking development of the 2017 season was the regression of this offensive line. Tennessee couldn’t get a consistent push after absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage last year.
Change could be on the way though. Josh Kline is set to hit the open market, while Quinton Spain will become a restricted free agent. I doubt that they would let Spain walk, but Kline could be replaced. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little more athletic up front.
The previous staff didn’t really have specific roles for their safeties. They interchanged each player, letting Johnathan Cyprien play plenty in centerfield. To be blunt, he was a liability. The Titans could use a more complete guy that can play in coverage a little more effectively.
Da’Norris Searcy is a part of this equation with one year left on his contract, but he will be 30 years old by the time he gets to free agency. He took a salary cut last year before the draft.
There was a reason we talked so much about Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker so much last year. The roster hasn’t changed since. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them take a safety this year in the middle rounds to compete, at least.
5. Backup Quarterback
Matt Cassel is done. I feel confident in saying that after watching this offense operate with him under center a little this year. Jon Robinson has to upgrade this spot as Marcus Mariota has missed time each season so far.
Maybe it’s a veteran. We can likely connect some dots when the team hires an offensive coordinator.
Potentials: Inside Linebacker, Nose Tackle and Defensive Line
Avery Williamson and DaQuan Jones are the big decisions that Jon Robinson has to make, contract-wise. Each could realistically hit the market and create additional needs for Robinson to fill. I do wonder about the nose tackle position, too. That could depend on the defensive coordinator hire.