After what appeared to be a slow start to free agency, GM Jon Robinson stroke deals with CB Malcolm Butler and RB Dion Lewis to solidify the secondary and complement RB Derrick Henry.
Adding a veteran wide receiver was not the primary focus of Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson this offseason.
Malcolm Butler was Robinson’s central target all along.
Butler reunites with ex-Patriot Logan Ryan, who played a key role in helping recruit Butler to Nashville. Butler arrives to the Titans having been conditioned to the functioning of a winning culture. He has chemistry with Ryan and can provide DB Coach Kerry Coombs with another solid skill set to work with. Although questions as to why Butler was benched in the Super Bowl still loom, he will focus his attention on helping the Titans secondary develop into one of the team’s strongest position group.
The addition of Butler provides the Titans secondary with solid starters and quality depth players. Butler has covered the league’s best wideouts and has a reputation of being physical. Ryan can now slide into the slot, where he is naturally better, while Adoree’ Jackson can continue to grow into one of the league’s best cover corners.
Factor in safety Kevin Byard and the Titans have fulfilled one component of “Coverage Consistency and Front Multiplicity”. If the Titans can add some pass rush help and find a linebacker that can bridge the gap after the departure of Avery Williamson, DC Dean Pees’ defense will be in business.
After the release of RB DeMarco Murray, it was no secret that the Titans would look to add a complementary back. Robinson quickly inked former Patriots RB Dion Lewis, who was extremely problematic for the Titans defense during their playoff matchup in Foxborough.
Some question his durability, but it’s a little off base. He’s suffered a torn ACL that made him miss time at the tail end of a season and the beginning of another, making it look like he’s missed two seasons with recurring injury concerns. However, it was one injury that caused Lewis to miss time in two seasons.Lewis also broke his leg in the beginning of his career, but it hasn’t hampered him since.
Lewis will become a consistent pass-catching threat out of the backfield. His presence will help OC Matt LaFleur’s offense develop at a faster rate. QB Marcus Mariota will now have a reliable option out of the backfield that can move the chains on third-downs.
Moreover, Lewis has proven that he can be a threat in the kick return game. Lewis has produced 1,307 return yards on 53 attempts, yielding an average of 22.9 yards per attempt. 35 of his 53 attempts have gone over 20 yards. Lewis earned his first return touchdown last season, rumbling 103 yards for the score.
“Lightning” Lewis will complement the punishing running style of Derrick Henry, as the two aim to become Smash and Dash 2.0. The duo will be formidable and will work nicely in a retooled offensive scheme drafted up by LaFleur. Tennessee will still likely add a running back via the draft to round out the running back group.
The Titans aren’t finished adding veterans in free agency. If their first two signees are any indication of what Robinson’s 2018 free agency looks like, the Titans are in good shape.