NFL free agency will (un)officially begin on Monday when the legal tampering window opens at 12 p.m. ET. The Tennessee Titans took care of their biggest in-house free agent by signing superstar pass rusher Harold Landry to an extremely lucrative five-year contract last week. General manager Jon Robinson took care of some other business by re-signing long snapper Morgan Cox, and extending the contracts of three exclusive rights free agents in Teair Tart, Nick Westbrook and Logan Woodside. Furthermore, Robinson began clearing a plethora of cap space by releasing the likes of Rodger Saffold, Kendall Lamm and Darrynton Evans. Tennessee also restructured Brett Kern’s contract, which helped keep the Pro Bowl punter in Tennessee.
With the legal tampering window beginning to loom large, and with Landry’s contract taken care of, Robinson should turn his attention to impending free agent center Ben Jones. Should Jones and the Titans fail to reach an agreement by 12 p.m. ET, Jones’ representation will be allowed to begin negotiating a contract with any of the 31 competing teams. It’s a bit surprising to witness the situation reach this point. Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel have always spoken extremely highly of Jones, and we expected them to re-sign the former Georgia Bulldog by now.
One of the longest tenured Titans, Jones has reached the end of a two-year, $13.5 million contract with the Titans, which included $9.5 million in guarantees, and an average annual salary of $6.7 million, via Spotrac. Jones carried a cap hit of $7.25 million in 2021. Robinson surely sees a need to retool, revamp and improve an offensive line that struggled in pass protection throughout the campaign. While improvements are necessary, Jones isn’t a player that performed poorly. He was Tennessee’s best performing and most consistent linemen throughout the season. Jones is a tough and physical leader that possesses an extremely high football I.Q. He’s a great athlete that’s a natural fit in Tennessee’s offense.
It’s difficult to imagine that Jones would be expensive to re-sign given his advancing age. He’s unlikely to land a contract significantly more lucrative than the reasonable one that just expired. If so, it makes Jones a bargain, and it would be surprising if Robinson disagreed with that assessment. We’ll find out shortly.
This could be a situation where Robinson envisions a decline in play approaching due to advancing age, but nothing about Jones’ performances throughout 2021 indicated a fall-off is near, and centers typically age well. Jones arguably enjoyed his most fruitful and successful campaign this past season.
Should the Titans allow Jones to get away, there are intriguing options to replace him with via free agency and the draft, and we’ll explore those options should it come to that. Let’s hope it doesn’t, though.