Tennessee Titans: Grading Offseason Acquisitions Halfway Through the Season

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 16: Taywan Taylor
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 16: Taywan Taylor /
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Free Agency Acquisitions

Daren Bates

After spending his first four years with the Rams and Raiders, Bates was signed to a contract with the Tennessee Titans in an effort to improve the special teams units. Although he has not contributed on defense at all due to a fairly strong linebacking corps fielded by Tennessee, Bates has been a consistent special teams presence as Tennessee was hoping when they signed him. Just last week against Baltimore, he even made an important play by recovering an onside kick and effectively ending Baltimore’s comeback bid.

Grade: B

Jonathan Cyprien

After being made the 33rd overall pick in 2013, Cyprien spent his first four years with the much-maligned Jacksonville Jaguars team. He racked up over 400 tackles over the course of his rookie contract and he was even named the No. 1 run defender of 2016 by Pro Football Focus. He was frequently knocked for his pass coverage during his tenure in Jacksonville, but with subpar talent around him, some of the blame has to go to a poor surrounding talent pool. Besides, Cyprien excels as an in-the-box safety and enforcer over the middle of the field rather than in coverage, which makes him perfect for a Troy Polamalu-esque role in Dick LeBeau’s defensive scheme. Unfortunately, Cyprien has only seen action in two games this season due to injury. Hopefully, Cyprien can provide a steady tackling presence in the middle of the field over the second half of the season.

Grade: Incomplete

Eric Decker

After Decker was released in the late summer New York Jets veteran fire sale, NFL fans were eager to see where the wide receiver would end up. Decker averaged around 1,100 yards per season despite some of the most inconsistent quarterback play in the league. Titans fans were ecstatic to learn that he had decided to come play in Nashville. Decker’s production thus far, however, has been lackluster to say the least. Decker has made some clutch catches to move the chains on third down, but he hasn’t been the safety valve for Mariota that many imagined he would be. Through eight games, Decker only has 247 yards. With Davis back in the lineup, Decker’s production will take yet another downturn. As of now, Decker remains a relatively expensive depth piece, but his experience provides as much of an asset to a young receiving room as anything else.

Grade: C

Logan Ryan

Ryan was the Titans’ crown jewel of free agency. They lured him away from the Patriots with a big, multi-year contract to add experience and talent to a young secondary. Ryan has been an above average cover corner up to this point and he forms one of the better tackling duos at the position with Adoree’ Jackson, but the Titans need a higher level of play out of him to help fix the poor secondary performances from the first half of the season. Tennessee paid him big money to come in and improve the team’s achilles heel. In the second half of the season, he needs to go out and earn it.

Grade: B-

Eric Weems

Weems, a former special teams ace in Atlanta, was signed very early on in the free agency period. Unfortunately, his return skills, a major selling point, were rendered obsolete by the selection of electric return man Adoree’ Jackson. That said, Weems has still had an impact as a member of special teams, just not to the extent that many predicted immediately after he signed.

Grade: C-

Sylvester Williams

During the 2017 free agency period, Tennessee decided to take a gamble on the physically gifted former first rounder Sylvester Williams to shore up the middle of their line at NT. After starting his career with some promising years, his play had fallen off and he was not resigned by Denver. Williams has thus far been unable to make much of an impact and has served mainly as a rotational defensive lineman with only 5 tackles to his name. Williams was way overpaid and it might not be surprising if he is forced to restructure his contract in 2018 or be released by the organization.

Grade: D

Next: More Praise for Mariota