Someone pointed out this weekend that the Tennessee Titans have a very clear plan in free agency so far. I am going to detail what they said and what I found.
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It’s a young man’s game
This is what I saw that intrigued me. Here are the ages off all the outside acquistions who look to be starters or at the very least role players:
CB Brice McCain, 29 years old
RB DeMarco Murray, 28 years old
C Ben Jones, 26 years old
WR Rishard Matthews, 26
In this first wave of free agency, the Tennessee Titans are not looking for older guys to fill holes. No, they are looking for guys who are going into their prime and who will be building blocks for the Titans in the future.
That was the point that started this article. The Titans are getting younger, but they are also doing it in a very smart way.
Filling needs but not needy
The Titans have identified needs on this team and have patiently attacked them. While the bigger needs like cornerback, right tackle and safety haven’t been filled that allows them to focus on those in the draft.
However, by going after middling need positions like center, #2 wide receiver, backup cornerback, and running back they have filled needs they would have spend Day 2 and 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft addressing. Now, they are free to use those picks to move around or to grab value players.
Big signings coming
It is rarely the team that makes the big splash in free agency that really turns their team around. It is the guys who hit big in the draft that are in the playoffs consistently two or three years down the road.
However, now that the Titans have waited out the big splash in free agency. They can evaluate the market for some of these bigger name players and look and see if there are any fits for the money without missing on other players they want.
The two names that I really like for the Tennessee Titans are both younger guys, though their time in the NFL has been spent in two very different ways.
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Aldon Smith EDGE
This is the crazier potential signing of the two, but one I feel strongly about. The Titans are missing the real threat of a constant pass rush, especially if one of their top edge rushers get hurt. One player who could help that is Smith.
Aldon Smith is one of the most productive pass rushers in the last few decades on a per game basis. Smith in his first five years has really managed to get 47.5 sacks in just 59 games which ends up being less than four seasons worth of games. That is amazing.
He is also very young (just 26) and is going to be very cheap because he won’t get to play the first 10 weeks of the season. This isn’t a signing that I expect to happen soon, but with Bruce Irvin going to Oakland, it looks like Smith isn’t guaranteed a spot.
This is a signing that will pay dividends into 2017 more than anything and it will also reunite him with his former teammate Delanie Walker who is a very good influence and who really has been a foundational player in this offense.
Amukamara is a man without a home now with Janoris Jenkins getting a ton of money to be their new cornerback. Now, the Tennessee Titans have a chance to steal one of the better outside cornerbacks in this league.
While he isn’t a great ballhawk, what he can do is get his hands on passes. In the past three years he has averaged 12 batted passes despite missing 13 games in the last two years.
He also fits the model of being young (26) and underrated. If you believe in PFF rankings, he is their 32nd ranked cornerback and is 22nd in pass coverage. Again, if you trust these rankings then that is a full 24 players ahead of Perrish Cox, the Titans top cornerback from last year.
I think this is a move that will help them for a long time if they made it a solid 4+ year deal, though they should act much quicker on this one than on the Aldon Smith deal.