Veteran OLB/DE Elvis Dumervil is arguably the best remaining player available for the Tennessee Titans to sign in free agency.
With the Ndamakong Suh saga finally over, many Tennessee Titans fans are now clamoring for the team to sign Johnathan Hankins. But while he is a good player, Hankins does not offer much in terms of pass rush. And the Titans’ biggest need right now (besides maybe ILB) are players who can pressure the QB. That is why the free agent who the Titans really should be chasing is Elvis Dumervil.
Designated Pass Rusher
At 34 years old, the days of playing every snap are behind Dumervil. But one thing he still excels at is getting after the QB. I am not exaggerating when I say he was an elite pass rusher in 2017.
This might seem like #FakeNews, but Dumervil was insanely productive in a limited amount of snaps; he recorded 6.5 sacks (a team high) on just 341 snaps (30% of the defensive snaps). Despite his age, he still has the speed and technique to be able to blow by tackles when he gets them one on one.
Dumervil probably couldn’t hold up as a three-down OLB if Derrick Morgan or Brian Orakpo were to go down with an injury, but he certainly would help lead a group effort along with Kevin Dodd and a possible rookie. If nothing else, he still brings a lot of value as a situational pass rusher. If the Titans want to make a deep playoff run, they will need more than three players who can generate pressure (Orakpo, Morgan, and Jurrell Casey).
Familiarity with Pees
Another reason the Titans should look to bring in Dumervil is his familiarity with new defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Many connections were made to Pees and Pernell McPhee, but Dumervil also played for four seasons under Pees in Baltimore, and averaged over 13 sacks in his first two seasons during that span.
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The Titans defense will surely have a bit of a transition period moving from Dick LeBeau’s defense to Pees’ scheme, and a player like Dumervil could be very helpful in implementing the changes. His familiarity with the scheme means he has less of a learning curve than other FAs or rookies who are new to the team, and he would also be able to help his teammates understand the system and their roles within it. Not only that, but having another veteran to mentor Dodd and the rookie(s) would be valuable in terms of their development.
I know a lot of people are calling on the Titans to sign Hankins, but Dumervil is the player I think the Titans should be focusing on. Relying on Dodd and/or rookies as the primary depth behind Orakpo and Morgan would be a big gamble. And the pickings are slim among the remaining free agents; after Dumervil, the best option would probably be to bring back Erik Walden. But Dumervil’s pass rush productivity and experience in Pees’ defense makes him the best possible free agent signing the Titans can make at this point. Plus, with a name like Elvis, he would feel right at home in Music City.