The one thing Tennessee Titans first-year general manager Jon Robinson won’t find in the 2016 NFL Draft later next month is veteran leadership, and veteran leadership in key areas around this young 3-13 team is a must when free agency begins Wednesday afternoon.
Most of the tier one free agents who will be signing offer sheets early in the process tend to fit in two categories.
Young superstars coming from good teams working on salary cap issues who are looking for a big payday and aging stars from questionable lineups who are looking for a place to get a ring.
This young Titans team is not a fit for these free agents and buying big contracts that will be difficult to shed down the road is a recipe for disaster in the future.
Veteran leadership can be found later in the process at a reasonable price without breaking the bank. Salary Cap problems are okay if a team is making a Super Bowl run every year, but not on teams trying to rebuild.
Barring a draft-day trade, I still like Laremy Tunsil OT Ole Miss as the Titans number one pick, but this unit also needs veteran leadership that can only be found in free agency.
Delanie Walker said in a late season interview on the JMac Show that the offensive line doesn’t need more rookies as much as it needs some veterans that can show the younger guys the ropes.
I think the Titans can have both.
They should be able to afford people like Ramon Foster from the Pittsburgh Steelers or Evan Mathis from the World Champion Denver Broncos.
We’re not looking for 16-game starters here, but we are looking for players who can take snaps and light the way for the youngsters.
Other areas where the Titans need veteran leadership are at running back and wide receiver. The running back unit needs a veteran who is versed in areas of pass catching and pass protection.
I have long been an advocate for Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, but I think the 30 year-old back is looking for a ring and may not be a fit in Music City. Would love to see him in Titans Blue but I don’t think it’s in the cards.
There will be some options out there before free agency is over, and maybe a “prove it” contact on a guy like Arian Foster from the Houston Texans would be an option that would benefit the Titans.
Foster is coming off a devastating injury last season, but could be a bargain. Foster was a good three-down back in his prime and could be someone the younger guys could learn from at a reasonable price.
Last but not least, the Titans need a wide receiver that Marcus Mariota can depend on to catch the football down field.
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Dorial Green-Beckham looks to be that guy, but he could probably use someone in his ear that can point him in the right direction.
You have to think that former Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White is on the radar to fill that need. With the Falcon connections within the current coaching staff the aging wide out is probably in the conversation.
This was a role that Harry Douglass was to fill last year. Douglass was great in the locker room but dropped to many third down passes that would have gotten Mariota a first down.
I still believe the Tennessee Titans need to build this team through the draft, but by sprinkling a few grizzled vets throughout the lineup will make that process go more smoothly and that has to be done through free agency.