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Resetting the Titans roster needs heading in to Week 2 of free agency

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Taking a quick break from #SuhWatch to check in on some other spots that still may be addressed as free agency continues.

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

It’s hard for me to think about anything besides Ndamukong Suh lining up next to Jurrell Casey right now, but I think this would be a good time to reset the Titans roster and some top available free agents one week in to free agency.

UFA IN: Malcolm Butler (Patriots), Dion Lewis (Patriots)

UFA RE-SIGNED: Josh Kline, DaQuan Jones

UFA OUT: Avery Williamson (Jets), Curtis Riley (Giants)

RELEASED: DeMarco Murray, Da’Norris Searcy, Karl Klug, Matt Cassel, Eric Weems, Sylvester Williams

UFA/RFA UN-SIGNED: Quinton Spain, Erik Walden, Eric Decker, Brice McCain, Harry Douglas, Brandon Weeden, Brian Schwenke

While most of the headliners from this free agent class have signed at this point (besides Suh obviously), there are still some really good players available that may prove to be good values for the Titans as they continue to fill out their 2018 roster.

By my count, the Titans still have at least 9 additions to the roster that they probably need to make (QB2, RB3, WR, G, 2 DL, EDGE, ILB, S). Some of those (RB3 and EDGE) are almost certainly going to come via the draft, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Titans add a veteran at most of the other spots to allow themselves maximum flexibility on draft day. So there is probably still some work to be done on the free agent market. Here are some of those spots and the types of players the Titans might be looking at.

BACKUP QUARTERBACK

On Roster: Alex Tanney, Tyler Ferguson

Top Available: Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Brock Osweiler, T.J. Yates, Blaine Gabbert

I still feel like the Titans are almost certain to sign a veteran quarterback to serve as a backup to Marcus Mariota, but the options left on the market are getting pretty unappealing. Out of the options above, I think T.J. Yates makes the most sense. He has played in a Shanahan offense before and knows Vrabel from his time in Houston so there is a connection. Having a veteran quarterback on the roster who already knows the offense (or at least parts of it) could be extremely valuable for offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Yates is a guy that would almost certainly need to be supplemented with a drafted QB who could offer more upside as a longer term backup.

The other option here is a trade. We haven’t heard anything more about the rumored trade for Brett Hundley. Maybe the Titans rekindle those talks if they don’t like the remaining available options, but with just 6 picks it’s hard to see the Titans parting with too much more draft capital.

GUARD

On Roster: Josh Kline, Corey Levin, Tyler Marz, Cody Wichmann

Top Available: Quinton Spain, Jack Mewhort, Luke Joeckel, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Jonathan Cooper, Marcus Martin, Kevin Pamphile

The Titans have tendered Quinton Spain with a right of first refusal offer. There are a few things to know about this RFA tender:

  • The Titans offered Spain the “right of first refusal” tender which is a 1 year contract for $1.91M. Spain can now go solicit offer sheets from other teams, but if he accepts one then the Titans have 5 days from the time he signs it to decide whether to let him walk or match the contract and bring him back.
  • The deadline for Spain to sign an offer sheet from another team is April 20th.
  • If Spain does not sign an offer sheet by April 20th, the Titans will have his exclusive negotiating rights and can either sign him to a long term extension or let him play on the 1 year tender and become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

To this point there has been no reported movement with Spain so it’s unclear whether he’s going to have as much outside interest as I would have anticipated. With the top of the class pretty much depleted after the signing of Justin Pugh in Arizona, now may be the time that we start to see Spain’s market develop.

The Titans can rescind the RFA tender at any point if they so choose which means they could still look outside the organization for their answer at left guard. Jack Mewhort is someone that could be interesting here. However, it’s all about the medicals with him. If his knees are OK, he’s a top 15-20 guard in the league right now and would be an excellent fit in the zone blocking scheme the Titans are moving to in 2018. I would imagine a move is coming here in some form or fashion to avoid going in to the draft knowing they need to find a day one starter at left guard.

WIDE RECEIVER

On Roster: Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Darius Jennings, Zach Pascal

Top Available: Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Brice Butler, Eric Decker, Kendall Wright, Jeff Janis

When the Titans were reportedly sniffing around Jarvis Landry earlier this offseason it seemed to indicate that they might be shopping in the high end wide receiver market. Now it looks like maybe that wasn’t the case as the team has not been seriously linked to another wide receiver since. While the Titans might have sat out the first and second waves at this position, there are still some players on the board that could help them.

Jordan Matthews is a guy who lives in Nashville during the offseasons and would likely have some interest in playing for the Titans. He’s a very strong size/speed guy at 6’-3”, 212 pounds with a 4.46 second 40 time. While Matthews has been used almost exclusively as a slot receiver during his time in Philadelphia and Buffalo, he could potentially fit as a Z outside as well.

Graver’s guy Brice Butler is still available and could be worth a call. He’s also got a good size/speed combo, but he’s been used more as a deep threat during his time in the league which may be appealing to the Titans.

One dark horse option is Jeff Janis. Like the last two I mentioned, he’s got elite size/speed at 6’-3”, 219 pounds and running a 4.42 40. He’s been buried on the Packers depth chart at wide receiver behind Jordy Nelson, Devante Adams, and Randall Cobb the last few years, but has flashed at times when called upon. He, like Butler, is seen as more of a deep threat.

DEFENSIVE LINE

On Roster: Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, David King, Antwaun Woods, Johnny Maxey, Julius Warmsley

Top Available: Ndamukong Suh, Johnathan Hankins, Alan Branch, Ricky Jean Francois, Jared Crick, Bennie Logan

Obviously Suh is on the top of every Titans fan’s mind right now as the team waits for a decision following their Saturday night-Sunday morning meeting with the star defensive tackle. He would be a difference maker, giving the Titans a fearsome four man rush of Brian Orakpo, Jurrell Casey, Ndamukong Suh, and Derrick Morgan on passing downs. It sounds like the Titans are firmly in the mix along with the Rams, Saints, and Seahawks bidding for Suh’s services with the Cowboys currently hovering as well. Out of those five teams the Titans have the ability to table the biggest financial offer, possessing the most available cap space and a lack of state income tax compared to the other three suitors. However, Suh is reportedly interested culture and the opportunity to win over everything else.

Luckily the Titans can offer both of those aspects as well, coming off back to back winning seasons and a locker room culture that seems to draw rave reviews from everyone who comes through Nashville. All eyes will be on him until he makes his decision. If the Titans were successful in signing Suh, they would likely use DaQuan Jones as a nose tackle in their base 3-4 between Suh and Casey creating one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

Outside of Suh, Johnathan Hankins is another very good option that was a surprise on the market. The Colts shockingly released the 26 year old after the first year of the 3-year, $27M contract he signed last offseason despite a strong debut season in Indianapolis. He’s an elite run-stuffer and would fit as more of a true nose tackle in the Titans defense, allowing Jones to remain in his typical spot as the defensive end opposite Casey. Hankins is visiting the Redskins today so he may not remain on the market for long.

After those two, this position gets pretty thin. Alan Branch would have had a big market last offseason, but a poor season at age 33 means that he is likely to only receive minimal interest on the market. Defensive line will become a draft need if the Titans don’t address it with a veteran over the next couple weeks. Casey, Johnson, and Jones would be pretty good as a starting unit, but behind them there would be very little experience available to rotate in.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

On Roster: Wesley Woodyard, Jayon Brown, Nate Palmer, Daren Bates

Top Available: Derrick Johnson, Navorro Bowman, Kevin Minter, Ramik Wilson

The Titans have not been connected to any inside linebackers to this point so it is beginning to look more and more like they will be content with heading to the 2018 draft with Woodyard, Brown, Palmer, and Bates as their group at this position. If so, I would expect them to use a pick at this position before the end of Day 2. This can also be seen as a vote of confidence in Jayon Brown who flashed immense talent at times last year, but was pretty inconsistent overall.

If the Titans feel the need to bring in a veteran insurance policy, Derrick Johnson or Navorro Bowman could be interesting options.

SAFETY

On Roster: Kevin Byard, Johnathan Cyprien, Brynden Trawick, Denzel Johnson

Top Available: Morgan Burnett, Mike Mitchell, Eric Reid, Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccaro, Eddie Pleasant, T.J. Ward

This is a position that feels like a need with Searcy and Riley moving on. The Titans don’t necessarily need to look for a starter-level player here with Byard locked in at one spot and Cyprien a perfectly adequate starter at the other, but an experienced backup would be nice since they just feature special teams ace Brynden Trawick and the inexperienced Denzel Johnson as backups.

Many of the players listed in the “top available” section will likely be unwilling to serve as a backup — or even be put in a spot where they would be competing with Cyprien for the starting job — so I wouldn’t hold my breath for top talent like Vaccaro or Burnett or Boston. The one that I think makes a ton of sense is Eddie Pleasant. He played in Houston under Mike Vrabel and offers some versatility, capable of playing slot corner and both safety spots as well as contributing on special teams. Pleasant’s experience playing for Vrabel could allow him to serve as another voice in meeting rooms and the practice field. He makes a ton of sense to take Searcy’s place on the roster.

Besides signing a new player at safety, the Titans may also look at converting cornerbacks Demontre Hurst or Kalan Reed to full-time safeties. They toyed with the idea during camp and the preseason in 2017 with both players before cutting both when the roster dropped to 53. This year, with Malcolm Butler joining Adoree Jackson, Logan Ryan, LeShaun Sims, and Tye Smith at corner, there isn’t really much room for Hurst or Reed to sneak on to the team unless they move to safety.