Every year we see free agents hit the NFL market and end up reuniting with a former coach or front office who they worked with at a previous stop. Teams and players often seem to value familiarity nearly as much as money.
With that in mind, here is a list of every free agent on the market with connections to the Titans coaching staff or front office (if I missed some let me know).
Za’Darius Smith, EDGE, Ravens
Titans Connection: Spent three years (2015-2017) working under current Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees in Baltimore.
Free Agent Fit? Yes. Smith fits a need position and both he and Pees have expressed admiration for each other and Pees reportedly had a hand in the Ravens drafting him out of Kentucky in 2015.
Smith admitted it was special to have the best performance of his career in front of Titans Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens’ former coordinator. Pees scouted Smith at his pro day in Kentucky and liked his potential. “Dean told me, ‘We’re going to make you a Raven,’” Smith said. “I respect Dean so much for that because it happened, you know?”
I’m not sure that he’s the best player on the market to fill the Titans edge need, but he’s certainly among the most familiar with Pees’ defense.
Terrell Suggs, EDGE, Ravens
Titans Connection: Spent eight years in Baltimore with Pees with the final six of those seasons coming with speed serving as defensive coordinator.
Free Agent Fit? Yes. The Titans need help at edge and there are multiple ways to fill that need. They could choose to spend big money on an in-his-prime option like Trey Flowers or Preston Smith or they could opt for a veteran bridge player who could be a short term solution while they prepared a draft pick and/or younger players to take on the role. Suggs would be a great fit as a bridge player. He’s 36, but he has 26 sacks over the past three seasons so he’s still got some real juice.
Brent Urban, DL, Ravens
Titans Connection: Spent four seasons (2014-2017) playing for Pees’ defense in Baltimore.
Free Agent Fit? Not really. The Titans need some help on the defensive line for sure, but they need pass rush ability first and foremost. Urban is a decent player, but his 3.5 career sacks show that he’s simply not a difference maker in that part of the game. He could provide some quality depth if he was available for cheap, but I don’t think he should be a prime target for Jon Robinson.
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Ravens
Titans Connection: Four seasons in Baltimore with Pees as defensive coordinator (2014-2017).
Free Agent Fit? No. Don’t get me wrong, Mosley is a fantastic player, but if there is one roster spot the Titans should feel good about, it’s inside linebacker. Wesley Woodyard probably only has a year or two left with the team, but Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown proved in 2018 that they will be ready to take up that mantle as early as this season. Spending the kind of money it would take to sign Mosley just to push Evans or Brown to the bench (or even to another position) makes zero sense.
Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers
Titans Connection: Signed as an undrafted free agent in Tampa Bay during Jon Robinson’s final season as the Bucs Director of Player Personnel.
Free Agent Fit? Yes. It’s no secret that the Titans are looking for wide receiver help. They’ve been reportedly sniffing around almost every available receiver on the trade market over the past six months, including Antonio Brown within the last week. Humphries has grown into a valuable slot receiver for the Bucs over the last four years and would be a significant upgrade over any of the Titans current options at that spot. The question is price as Humphries is reportedly expected to command north of $10M per year in a thin receiver market.
Ndamukong Suh, DL, Rams
Titans Connection: Titans defensive line coach Terrell Williams was Suh’s position coach in Miami for three seasons (2015-2017).
Free Agent Fit? Yes. The Titans need disrupters up front and that’s exactly what Suh is, even at age 32. They chased him last offseason and I wouldn’t be shocked if they decided to make another run this year. The sack numbers in LA weren’t great. He finished with just 4.5 on the season, but he also finished in the top 10 among interior defenders in QB hits and hurries per PFF charting. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Aaron Donald nearly doubled his previous career high in sacks during his one season with Suh by his side. He’s still easily the best defensive lineman on the free agent market in my opinion.
Cameron Wake, EDGE, Dolphins
Titans Connection: Titans defensive line coach Terrell Williams was also Wake’s position coach in Miami for three seasons (2015-2017).
Free Agent Fit? Yes. Similar to Suggs, Wake would be a an older option, but he’s still producing at a quality rate. He picked up 6 sacks last year, but had back to back double digit sack seasons in the two years before. As mentioned above, Wake would probably need to be paired with a drafted edge rusher to develop. Wake’s skill set is fairly similar to that of Harold Landry so maybe he could be a good fit to step into that teammate/mentor role that Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan embraced last season.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots
Titans Connection: No, it’s not just the free agent funnel that seems to run from Foxborough to Nashville. Hogan spent two seasons (2013-2014) with Titans receivers coach Rob Moore as his position coach in Buffalo. In fact, Hogan saw his breakout season (2014) under Moore’s guidance.
Free Agent Fit? Yes. I don’t think Hogan is going to have a massive market as a 30 year old receiver who didn’t have his best season in 2018, but that could make him a value fit for the Titans. He’s an outside receiver with deep speed (don’t make the mistake of lumping him in with the Patriots other receivers that look like him) who could be a more reliable version of Taywan Taylor. He’s not my favorite free agent wide receiver, but I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it either.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Ravens
Titans Connection: Worked with Titans receivers coach Rob Moore for three years in Oakland (2015-2017).
Free Agent Fit? Kinda. As discussed above, the Titans need a veteran wide receiver, but I really hope they can find a better option than Crabtree who led all NFL receivers in drop rate per PFF charting, dropping a whopping 16.9% of the catchable passes thrown his way. Crabtree will turn 32 this season and at this point he’s little more than a goal line fade specialist with suspect hands. It’s a hard pass for me.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Patriots
Titans Connection: Spent the 2017 season in Oakland with current Titans wide receivers coach Rob Moore as his position coach and current Titans tight ends coach Todd Downing as his offensive coordinator.
Free Agent Fit? Possibly. The Titans need some wide receiver help and Patterson offers some versatility as he’s capable of playing in the backfield and on special teams as well. He still struggles with the nuance of the receiver position, but he’s explosive with the ball in his hands.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
Titans Connection: Current Titans offensive line coach Keith Carter was Coleman’s running backs coach in 2017 with the Falcons.
Free Agent Fit? Not really. The Titans are in an odd spot at running back. Derrick Henry is heading into the final season of his rookie contract and Dion Lewis struggled in his first season in Nashville and isn’t getting any younger. The team could use a third back to give them some options for the 2020 season, but I think that player is more likely to come from the draft than free agency. Coleman is a great fit for the outside zone based offense the Titans want to run, but he’s likely to be one of the highest paid backs on the market. The team isn’t going to pay that kind of money for a third running back and no, Dion Lewis isn’t going anywhere...
Bradley Roby, CB, Broncos
Titans Connection: Roby played under Titans defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs during his college career at Ohio State.
Free Agent Fit? No. The Titans don’t need another corner right now, at least not at the price Roby is expected to command. Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson, LeShaun Sims, and Tye Smith are as strong a top five as you’ll see in the NFL right now top to bottom. The team may want to add a developmental piece here via the draft since both Ryan and Sims are heading into the final year of their current contracts and Butler isn’t getting any younger either, but a free agent addition is highly unlikely.