Welcome to Music City Miracles’ Tennessee Titans 2023 Roster Profile! Between now and August, MCM will feature more than two dozen talents. The main goal is to highlight underrated contributors and key rotational players. We’ll throw in the odd superstar or roster-bubble player, but we’re mainly focused on spotlighting the middle of the roster. That’s where key depth helps define a roster’s ceiling.
Today, we’re analyzing free-agent signing Arden Key.
Entered League: No. 87 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft (Las Vegas Raiders)
NFL Experience: 6
Years with team: 1
“Arden Key signed a 3 year, $21,000,000 contract with the Tennessee Titans, including a $6,500,000 signing bonus, $13,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $7,000,000. In 2023, Key will earn a base salary of $1,080,000, a signing bonus of $6,500,000 and a workout bonus of $250,000, while carrying a cap hit of $2,880,000 and a dead cap value of $11,580,000.” Spotrac
Arden Key is expected to start opposite a returning Harold Landry on the edge of Tennessee’s defense. Key was arguably Ran Carthon’s best free-agent signing this summer. Key was excellent for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, recording 4.5 sacks in a rotational role behind Josh Allen and Travon Walker. Key totaled 44 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus. Signing Key weakened the Jaguars and strengthened the Titans.
Like many of Carthon’s offseason signings, there’s a sense of familiarity. Both Key and Carthon were with the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. Carthon watched Key record a personal-best 6.5 sacks, which revitalized his career after a lackluster three-year stint with the Raiders.
Key has already brought a unique sense of energy to the Titans. He’s been terrific with the media throughout OTA’s, voluntary minicamp and mandatory minicamp. Key is fired up for the opportunity to start in Tennessee.
The Titans are counting on Key to be an effective first-time starter. In 2022 with the Jaguars, Key was more of a rotational defender, totaling 323 pass-rushing snaps. In 2021 with the 49ers, Key played behind an abundance of talent, and accounted for just 260 pass-rushing snaps.
With the uncertainty surrounding Landry’s health, and a lack of depth behind the starters, Key will be heavily relied upon in Tennessee. If healthy, Key’s snap count will be significantly higher than what he saw in Jacksonville and San Francisco. Hopefully Key can remain productive and consistent. Extrapolating his statistics indicates Key could flirt with a double-digit sack season.
Key’s outputs are crucial to the overall success of Tennessee’s defense in 2023. Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry will continue to be productive pass rushers. Things get muddier after that given Landry’s return from a torn ACL. Key finds himself in the most fruitful opportunity of his career.