I generally loathe the “[insert recognizable name here] just got cut, the Titans should sign him” takes, but I’ll make an exception for this one. With Cameron Wake on IR and the combination of Kamalei Correa, Reggie Gilbert, and Sharif Finch totaling just 6 sacks total between them in 2019, adding another pass rusher to complement Harold Landry would seem like a good idea.
Unfortunately, there are almost never useful pass rushers that would represent an upgrade over the current roster options floating around on the market at this time of year... but that all changed when the Cardinals announced the release of veteran pass rusher Terrell Suggs this week.
Suggs is 37 years old and isn’t the same dominant force that he once was, but he still managed 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, and 4 forced fumbles in 13 games with the Cards. His 33 pressures on the season according to PFF would rank second on the Titans behind Landry as well. It’s pretty clear that he’s still got enough left in the tank to contribute as a pass rush specialist, much like Wake did prior to getting hurt.
Then you have the connection to Dean Pees. Suggs tallied 43 of his 138 career sacks in the 72 games he started between 2012 and 2017 when Pees was the Ravens defensive coordinator. That stretch includes 3 of Suggs’ 7 double digit sack seasons in his 17 year career. You would think that familiarity would help him integrate quickly into the Tennessee defense.
Adam Schefter reported last night that Suggs is angling for a return to Baltimore, the franchise where he’d spent his previous 16 seasons before signing a 2-year, $10M deal with Arizona before this season. He’s reportedly considering refusing to report to his new team if he’s claimed by anyone besides the Ravens.
Though he is eligible to be claimed on waivers at 4 pm ET Monday, former Cardinals’ pass rusher Terrell Suggs will strongly consider not reporting to his new claiming team if it is anyone other than the Baltimore Ravens, per league sources.https://t.co/MuIrLAPdbv— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 14, 2019
However, with the Ravens set to hold the last waiver spot thanks to their league best 12-2 record, all 31 other teams would have to pass on him for that reunion to happen.
The Titans will have the 20th claim spot, but among the 19 teams in front of them, just the Eagles and Cowboys have more than a 5% chance at making the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight’s model. I’m not sure what the value in picking up Suggs would be for a team not in the playoff hunt — again, he’s a 37 year old pass rusher so he’s not exactly a long term building block — so my guess is that the Titans would actually have a pretty good shot at landing Suggs if they decided to put in the claim.
The financial side to claiming Suggs is another factor. The team claiming him would end up owing him $350,000 for two games and the 2020 season is voidable according to OverTheCap so if the Titans wanted this to be a short term rental, they could make it one.
So what’s the downside? Well, there is the history between Suggs and the Titans. He was famously a part of the Ravens defense that intentionally spent most of their playoff matchup after the 2008 season trying to hurt Chris Johnson. However, that’s more of an issue for fans to get over than the organization. There isn’t a single Titan on the roster or in the front office or coaching staff that was a part of that game. If Suggs can help this team close strong and end up back in the postseason, fans will eventually let that grudge go too.
So what happens if Suggs isn’t bluffing about sitting out and Dean Pees can’t talk his former pupil into putting on the two-tone blue? Well, the Titans wouldn’t really lose anything besides whatever player they bump off the 53 man roster to make room for him. If Suggs doesn’t report to work, he’d forfeit his last two game checks and would become a free agent when the team voids his contract in the offseason.
For their troubles, the Titans would get to keep a potentially helpful piece away from a conference rival. While they don’t need to worry about the Ravens in the short term — in fact, they need Baltimore to win in Week 17 when they play the Steelers — they could absolutely end up seeing the Purple Browns in the playoffs if they get in and advance. Keeping Suggs from being able to help them is almost worth the claim by itself.
Ian Rapoport tweeted this morning that at least one other team is considering claiming Suggs besides the Ravens. He also mentions the Titans as a potential landing spot.
Situation to monitor with pass-rusher Terrell Suggs. While he’d like to play for the #Ravens, it sounds like at least one other team is poised to claim him. If it’s the #Titans with DC Dean Pees, there is some familiarity there. Suggs is not certain to show if it’s not Baltimore.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 15, 2019
So my advice — that he absolutely doesn’t need or want — to Jon Robinson would be to call Suggs’ bluff and see if Pees can work some magic. Best case scenario you find a viable Wake replacement for free. Worst case scenario you have to pick back up whichever player you drop to make room on the roster. The reward far outweighs any risk here.