The 2016 NFL season officially kicks off on March 15, at 3:00 pm local time. It also marks the start of free agency. The Tennessee Titans have twelve unrestricted free agents (can negotiate with other teams on March 15th), and seven of those players contributed at various points throughout the season.
In the next six weeks, new general manager Jon Robinson’s first order of business is deciding which of these players are worth keeping, and which ones should be shown the door.
Today we discuss the 2015 contributors that should start looking for luggage.
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Zach Brown (ILB)
When Zach Brown arrived in 2012, all signs pointed to him being a great middle linebacker. After posting 184 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and 2 forced fumbles his first two seasons, Brown missed all of 2014 due to injury.
Brown was replaced by rookie middle linebacker Avery Williamson, who went on to flourish that season and has never looked back. Not only did Williamson lead the team in tackles this season, but he is also now the signal caller for the defense…and a young conerstone of the roster.
Brown eventually fell out of the starting lineup this season when Wesley Woodyard outperformed him. He is still a solid player, and will want to be paid and played like a starter. Something that seems unlikely in Tennessee.
Coty Sensabaugh (CB)
Numbers never lie, but in the case of Coty Sensabaugh, they can sometimes be misleading. Yes, Sensabaugh was the fifth leading tackler on the team with 60. But that speaks more to the cornerback position being decimated with injuries all season long, than to any positive signs for the future. In pass defense, Sensabaugh was a liability…routinely giving up big play after big play. The Titans have already publicly stated that upgrading the secondary is a high priority. I expect them to look elsewhere in free agency.
Craig Stevens (TE)
Tight end Craig Stevens has hauled in 109 passes in his seven seasons as a Tennessee Titan. At 31, he may now find himself on the outside looking in.
Delanie Walker is the unquestioned number one option, and veteran Anthony Fasano will serve as his primary backup in 2016. The Titans also have younger options in Chase Coffman and Phillip Supernaw still under contract. Tennessee kept five tight ends and just four receivers on the final roster, and it came back to bite them in 2015. Look for those numbers to flip flop this offseason.
Antonio Andrews (RB)
Antonio Andrews led the team in rushing in 2015, so why is he on the hot seat? Again, numbers can be misleading.
Andrews “led” the Titans with 520 yards, but he averaged less than four yards a carry (3.6) and less that 40 yards a game (37.1). He also had a disastrous final month of the season.
First, he whiffed on his blitz protection, and got Marcus Mariota knocked out of the game….and eventually out of the season. He followed that up with a critical opening possession fumble that was returned for a touchdown against Houston. He finished the season playing behind rookie David Cobb, who had missed nearly half the season with injuries. Not a ringing endorsement for a new contract.