After a quiet couple of days to start free agency this year, the Tennessee Titans…and their 40 plus million dollar salary cap…kicked things into high gear by signing several free agents the past few days.
The Titans have been particularly aggressive on defense…signing two linebackers (Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo), a defensive tackle (Karl Klug), and Bernard Pollard’s replacement at safety (Da’Norris Searcy).
More defensive players will surely be added as the process goes along, but a strong start none the less. I guess things like this tend to happen when a defensive coaching legend like Dick LeBeau walks through the door.
But another, more subtle signing on the other side of the ball may pay not so subtle dividends this season. The signing of free agent tight end Anthony Fasano.
Yes, the Titans already have a pro bowl caliber tight end in Delanie Walker. But Fasano brings something to the offense that Walker does not, and it complements his game quite well.
Delanie Walker has been as durable as they come as a Titan, but his backups have not. The lack of depth caused Walker to be overused in a lot of cases last season. Fasano, in his nine year career, has played in fewer than 14 games only once. This gives Tennessee a much needed durable second option.
While Walker is a much better receiving tight end, Fasano is much better at run blocking…bringing a physicality to the run game that was sorely missing last season. He can move defenders off the ball more effectively in jumbo short yardage sets.
At 6’4, 225, he’s also a dangerous red zone play action weapon for a qb on the move, hauling in 17 tds the last 4 seasons…most from close range. Walker has 16 tds in that span. A nice 1-2 punch.
Last, but certainly not least, Fasano will not cost you games. He’s only lost two fumbles his entire career, and that was six years ago.
Having two durable, viable options at tight end can do wonders for an offense. Fasano is just enough of a receiving threat to keep defenses honest (career avg 11.1 yds per catch). That gives an offensive mind like Ken Whisenhunt the flexibility to add some new wrinkles to the offense this season.
Especially in the red zone where the Titans struggled to score touchdowns last year, ranking 25th in the league.
Whoever lines up under center on opening day will have stability, and a veteran presence at that position.