The Titans have numerous players that will be free agents once the lockout ends, but none quite as interesting as Jason Babin. Voted to the Pro Bowl after a stellar 2010 season in which he recorded 58 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles, Babin faces the possibility of multiple lucrative offers from different teams around the league looking to amp up their defense in 2011. The Titans have expressed interest in bringing Babin back but the question remains, will they? Or even better yet, should they?
Babin has recently stated concerns over his status with the Titans and all the changes being brought to the defensive scheme.
"“When you put that many new people together — new offense, defense, new guy at the helm, at quarterback — it’s kind of hard to predict what the culture’s going to be, what the atmosphere’s going to be,” he added. “And even more so, the hierarchy of how things are going to rank importance-wise. So it’s kind of hard for me to say yes or no until, (No.) 1, they talk to me and express interest. And No. 2, I can see how things unfold as far as the team as a whole goes,” the defensive end recently told MLive.com."
The Titans did express interest in Babin back in May, but due to restrictions from the lockout, their hands are tied for the time being.
Babin has also expressed his own interest in returning to the Eagles, now that his former Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn has joined them.
"“He resurrected me. I’d have to at least give that serious consideration. But Tennessee is where I made a home, my kids go to school there, we live there. So I feel like I’m in a tough position.”"
I’m not completely opposed to Babin leaving us for the Eagles. I’ve got two major concerns with Babin returning to the Titans:
1) Money- Babin just had the best season of his career and was one of the most dominant defensive ends in the league, earning him an appearance at the Pro Bowl. He’s gonna be looking for some more of that green stuff.
2) Production- Any of you remember hearing about Babin before he was a Titan? Did this 31 year old defensive end just drop from the sky and start terrorizing quarterbacks?
Let’s look at some history here…
Jason Babin has been in the league seven years, he was a first round pick by the Houston Texans in 2004, and the closest he’s come to putting up the numbers he did this past season (44 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 12.5 sacks) was 2005 when he recorded 24 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 sacks. He also had a descent showing as a rookie, recording 51 solo tackles and 4 sacks. But what happened after he left the Texans in 2006? Nothing. He recorded playing time in 4 games in the two years he spent as a Seahawk and recorded a whopping total of 2 tackles. He then spent a year with the Kansas City Chiefs where he played in 7 games and recorded 25 solo tackles and 2 sacks. In 2009 he went to the Philadelphia Eagles where he played in 12 games and recorded a measly 11 solo tackles with 2.5 sacks. The next year he ended up with the Titans and earned the first Pro Bowl appearance of his career under the tutoring of none other than Jim Washburn.
Can Babin produce without Washburn and if he can, is he worth the money? His history really doesn’t say a lot for him.
Among our other defensive ends about to be free agents we have Jacob Ford and Dave Ball. Ball was having an excellent season, recording 7 sacks in 11 games, before it was cut short by injuries. We should see him return to the Titans. Jacob Ford had a bit of an off season, recording a career low 3 sacks, but he’s been a decent situational player in the past and I’d look for him to return as well. Both of those players should be cheaper to bring back than Babin. We also will have the return of last years first round pick Derrick Morgan who many expect to bloom this year.
With a change in scheme and the frightening prospect of Babin just being a one year wonder, it’s questionable whether the Titans should make the investment in Babin. An incentive laden contract seems to be the smartest way to go about it. The Titans could retain their comfortable depth they have at defensive end without tremendous risk. If Babin really is as good a player as he thinks he is, he could stand to make some good money. If not, the Titans aren’t stuck holding the bag.
Give us sacks, we’ll give you cash.