It’s time to take a look at defensive free agents that could fit and improve the Titans defense. I’m sure the Titans will at least take a look at some of these players. Let’s remember that the Titans finished 18th in total defense and next to last in sacks. It will be interesting to see if the Titans address defensive or offensive line with the top picks in the draft, as both are big needs.
Cliff Avril, DE, Lions
I expect the Titans to draft a DE with one of their first two picks. There are few defensive ends in free agency that would be considered an upgrade over Morgan or Jason Jones, one of which is Cliff Avril. Avril may be a little undersized for Gray’s scheme at 260 pounds but Titans could definitely use a faster pass rusher. He had 11 sacks last season and was a solid contributor in the running game, but based on how thin this class is, I’m sure some team will offer him playmaker money. I expect the Titans to put some emphasis in upgrading this position though.
Red Bryant, DE/DT, Seahawks
I really liked what Casey brought as a run stopper this year, but he needs help besides him. Klug had a huge rookie season and has a lot of potential but he is a situational player. At 6-4 and 323 pounds it sounds like Bryant is the type of guy Gray is looking for. He is a powerful run-stuffer and could be a huge addition to the defensive line rotation. I see this big guy doing what we expected Shaun Smith to do this past season, clog up the line. He may be a little underrated but under the correct scheme he still has a lot of potential.
William Middleton, CB, Jaguars
I really hope the Titans bring Finnegan back. He is a huge leader in our defense and he is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. If Finnegan leaves, expect the Titans to go with McCourty and Verner as their starting cornerbacks. I just don’t think Campbell is ready to assume the third cornerback spot. Don’t get me wrong, Campbell has the potential to be a starter in this league, but it’s just too soon for him. I expect the Titans to look for a nickel back and Middleton could come at a reasonable price. He filled in really well for a banged up Jaguars secondary and still has a good upside; he has good coverage skills and ideal size for a CB. I don’t think the Jaguars will try too hard to retain him if Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis return to the Jaguars for next season.
So it’s time to talk safeties. I expect the Titans to only retain Babineaux and let Hope and Griffin test the market. I really like Griffin but his contract year was not a good one and the front office may be ready to move on without him. Therefore the Titans will be looking for at least one starter and some depth in the draft and free agency.
Tyvon Branch, SS, Raiders
Branch may be the top safety of this free agent class, he is solid against the run and has good coverage skills. He has the combination of size and speed to make plays all over the field. What I like the most about this guy is that despite the fact that he’s been in the league for 4 years, he still has a lot of good years ahead. The problem with Branch is that I don’t think the Raiders will let him test the market. In they do, Branch will have plenty of big money offers.
LaRon Landry, SS, Redskins
It’s not the first, nor the last time you’ll read about this. Landry is the perfect replacement for Hope in the starting lineup. He is a fast, strong, big-hit kind of safety who would fit perfectly into Gray’s scheme. The problem is he has just played in 17 games the last two seasons. If he stays healthy he is a Probowl caliber safety who could boost the defense. I’m sure the Titans will spend some money filling this position either in the draft or free agency.