A lot of teams have cap space this season. Some teams will see this as their year to turn it all around and go hard after free agents, even if it does mean overpaying a few players. Others will be more conservative and choose to allocate their money wisely. So what should the Tennessee Titans do? Emulate the Eagles
Philadelphia’s offseason strategy last year which hinged on signing their core to long-term deals while finding a ton of free agents in the bargain bin. If a team does this wisely, it can expand that core group of players pivotal to winning a championship. Alshon Jeffery went from a one-year, $9.5 million bargain to a long-term deal. Sure, if done wrong it can quickly balloon the cap but the key to searching for the lesser known free agents is it oftentimes means fewer years on their deals as well.
The Titans are a good candidate to do that given that. They don’t need pricey free agents like Kirk Cousins and after him, the number of marquee free agents drops off considerably. They need some more targets for Marcus Mariota and they need to shore up their defense. That’s a good place to be and there are some quality vets that could take the Titans from a middling playoff team to AFC contender.
The Titans already have Sylvester Williams and Jurrell Casey as starting defensive tackles but if they can get Lotulelei at a fair price they should use him to bolster their line. He wasn’t a powerhouse in Carolina but he’d provide ample depth. In 2017, Lotulelei only had 1.5 sacks but his role as a pass rusher isn’t what makes him valuable. He is the sort of defensive tackle that needs to be used to swallow the offensive line and open lanes for rushers on the edge. While the Panthers sack totals were down across the board last season, that could open a valuable opportunity for the Titans to buy low on a tackle who could greatly benefit Tennessee’s edge rushers like Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.
Haloti Ngata DT
At 34 years old, Ngata might be near the end of his career but he can provide valuable depth for the Titans. He suffered a torn bicep injury that cut his 2017 season short so it’s hard to tell if age has caught up with him yet but it also means if he does want to continue playing, he’ll have to do so on the cheap. Along with being an effective backup in situations where they need to stop the run, he’d also be the kind of veteran locker room presence the team needs.
At one point he was a first-round pick with the Giants. Injuries derailed his time in New York but he became a solid contributor in Chicago. His days are as a potential marquee corner are likely over but the Titans need some secondary depth. With Brice McCain set to hit free agency, corner depth is something the Titans desperately need if they want to ensure their draft picks will be saved for filling more immediate needs. Tennessee finished the 2017 season ranked 25th in passing yards allowed per game.
The Titans need to generate more of a pass rush. Clayborn has had an up and down career but his last season with Atlanta saw him generate 9.5 sacks. Yes, that number is a little inflated given five of them came in one game against the Cowboys. Still, he provides depth, especially with DaQuan Jones set to hit the market, and would allow them to use their draft picks to build up their offense.
There are bigger names tight ends out there but this could be the biggest bargain. Mariota leaned heavily on veteran tight end Delanie Walker last year. Jenkins only had three touchdowns for the Jets but under Matt LaFleur, he could be a Tyler Higbee figure. He’s had some personal issues to deal with and if he can overcome that then he could stretch the field. The primary goal of the off-season is to get the offense to be as good as it could be before they have to sign Mariota to a long-term deal.
The Titans have great outside protection but despite that, the Titans struggled to protect Mariota. The reason for this is because they have struggled to bolster the interior of their line. The team’s needs on the inside are made even more urgent as they have two interior linemen set to be free agents. Jensen is a solid veteran center and he might come at more than a bargain but he’d be worth it. The Rams did well by signing John Sullivan last year, a piece many pointed to as one of the main reasons for Los Angeles’ sudden offensive explosion, and Jensen could make a similar impact. The Titans are likely to address this area in the draft but Jensen would make an immediate impact.
Richardson had enough flashes in Seattle to make him worth investing in. 2017 was a breakout year for the fourth-year receiver as he finished the season with 44 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns. Despite this, the chatter around him has been relatively quiet, leaving the door open for the Titans getting a discount for him. Yes, Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews are the two stars but beyond that, they don’t have much at receiver. Eric Decker has been inconsistent and the Titans could copy the Rams and simply flood the position and see what sticks. Richardson could be a deep threat and he could come cheap.