We all know of the big name free agents that the Titans should be in on, but there are plenty of good secondary options to choose from.
With free agency starting soon, the Tennessee Titans will surely be active considering they’ll have a bunch of carryover money to spend. I used Pro Football Focus’ free agency tracker, which lists all of the upcoming free agents (restricted and unrestricted).
There is no doubt that the Titans need to upgrade the secondary this offseason. Simply put, the Titans’ cornerbacks just weren’t good enough in 2016. Many fans are hoping for a cornerback like Quincy Wilson to be drafted, or A.J. Bouye or Logan Ryan to be signed. In my opinion, Johnson is the cornerback to target for the Titans. A third round pick out of Montana, Johnson burst onto the scene his rookie year and hasn’t looked back.
Chalk it up to playing on the Rams, but Johnson has quietly been one of the league’s best cornerbacks since coming in. Through his first four years, he picked off 15 passes and returned two of them for a touchdown. FIFTEEN interceptions, and that’s while missing nine games during that span. Last season, Johnson only picked off one pass but was vital to a nosediving Rams defense. He missed two games with an ankle injury, which might have hampered him further. Still, Johnson is only 27 and in the prime of his career, and would be an immediate impact starter for the Titans.
Many Titans fans, myself included, have been clamoring for a No. 1 receiver to be added this offseason. Alshon Jeffery and Mike Williams are the Big Kahunas in free agency and the draft, respectively. Corey Davis will also be a top option in the draft. But might the Titans be better off spending their capital elsewhere, while going with a non-splashy, reliable option instead? I’m not sure, but if they go that route, then Thielen makes a lot of sense.
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Thielen had one of the best under-the-radar seasons in the NFL last year, coming 33 yards shy of a 1,000 yard season and snagging five touchdowns. He was Sam Bradford’s most trustworthy option, and showed the ability to make big plays from time to time. PFF actually rated him better than Jeffery in 2016, so don’t be surprised if Thielen becomes a hot commodity in free agency.
If you’ve ever watched an Arizona Cardinals game, then you’ve noticed #51 making plays all over the field on defense. That man is Kevin Minter. A run-stopping thumper coming out of LSU, Minter has developed into a legit every-down inside linebacker at the NFL level. This past season he racked up 59 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks from his middle linebacker position.
While Minter still isn’t outstanding in coverage (not many middle linebackers are), he’s a rangy player in the middle of the field, which is something the Titans need. Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard were fine last season, but a playmaking inside linebacker is needed. With more room to roam in a Dick LeBeau defense, Minter would see his sack numbers from last year increase and an interception or two come his way.
If you’re like me, you’ve been surprised by Jones’ career in the NFL. A dominant pass rusher at Georgia, Jones’ measurables never correlated with his college production. The Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance on him anyway, taking him 17th overall in 2013. His first two seasons were marred by a lack of production and injuries. His next two years resulted in a demoted role, but he accepted it and produced.
His numbers haven’t exactly been there (just six sacks in four years), but he’s picked off two passes and forced three fumbles during the past two years. As a rotational edge player, that’s not too shabby. He also drew solid marks from PFF last season, accumulating a 77.0 overall grade on just 476 snaps. Jones would be a really nice backup option behind Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, who need to stay fresh during a full season.