Tennessee Titans could sign a former Pro Bowler at a steep discount


The Tennessee Titans have the opportunity to sign a young, versatile defender in his prime who has made a Pro Bowl, at a steep discount.

Occasionally, a team must be willing to make a bold move in order to chase the Lombardi Trophy. This was evident firsthand in February’s Super Bowl when the Philadelphia Eagles called a trick play now known as the “Philly Special” on fourth-and-goal. On the biggest stage in American football, the Eagles decided to roll the dice and go for six when they already were well within field goal range and, furthermore, called a trick play against one of the most well-coached, disciplined defenses in the league.

Philadelphia made a bold move and it paid off. Had they failed, it would have been derided after a close Super Bowl that ended up being a one score affair. However, their willingness to make that bold move is what separates Super Bowl contenders like the Eagles and perennially mediocre teams like the Cincinnati Bengals.

That said, bold moves can take place off the field as well. For example, the Los Angeles Rams, not content to rest on their laurels, went out and gambled on loud, brash players like Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters who have elite talent but could also backfire after an on-field meltdown.

The Tennessee Titans, as well as 32 other teams around the league, now have the opportunity to make a bold personnel move in free agenct. The question is: who will make it? The move in question would be to sign former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid.

Players of Reid’s caliber typically do not appear on the free agent market at all, and when they do, they create a bidding war amongst needy teams. However, Reid’s status as Colin Kaepernick’s “partner-in-crime” has earned him notoriety throughout the league. Reid unleashed a firestorm of opinions by kneeling for the anthem in every game, even after most other protests had ended.

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans /

Tennessee Titans

This controversy has caused one of the league’s premier young safeties to go unsigned for several weeks of free agency. Regardless of where fans stand on the anthem protests, Reid has the potential to be an important building block for a contender for three main reasons.

1. Reid Has Revealed That He Will No Longer Protest During the Anthem

Eric Reid, as recently reported by ESPN, recognizes that his anthem protests provide an almost insurmountable barrier to signing with a new team. After watching his former teammate Colin Kaepernick remain unsigned for an entire calendar year, Reid does not wish to suffer the same fate after a thus-far unsuccessful foray into free agency. Recently, at his younger brother Justin Reid’s Pro Day, Eric relayed the following message to the media, in which he states that he will no longer protest during anthems in 2018 and onward:

"“I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country. I don’t think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem. I say ‘during’ because it’s crazy that the narrative changed to we were ‘protesting the anthem,’ and that wasn’t the case. I think we’re going to take a different approach to how we’re going to be active.”"

Reid still wishes to be an activist, but recognizes that anthem protests are not a sustainable form of activism in today’s NFL. Thus, the very thing that makes Reid a lightning rod to teams and fans no longer exists. The league has proven tolerant of activists like Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett in the past because they keep their activism off the field. Without anthem protests, the Titans would not have to deal with the media circus that some might expect from signing Reid, which makes it much easier to sign him.

2. Reid Will Sign a Contract Below Market Value

After players like Tyrann Mathieu, Lamarcus Joyner, and Morgan Burnett received big paydays during free agency, the price for a young, talented safety like Reid should be fairly high. However, after several weeks with no offers to speak of, Reid’s value has gone down and he has almost no leverage in negotiations. Thus, GM Jon Robinson can sign Reid to a multi-year deal and get a talent who is on a similar level to the aforementioned safeties, but on a much more team-friendly deal.

For a team that will need to lock up a franchise left tackle and franchise quarterback next offseason, the cap flexibility provided by this below market contract is an added bonus for the Titans. On top of this, the team will have even more draft flexibility because many writers project the Titans to select a mid-round safety. Strictly from a financial and personnel standpoint, Reid could be a masterstroke for a Titans front office that has been on fire this offseason.

3. Reid Provides the Team With a Very Talented, Versatile Defender in the Secondary.

Lastly, Reid’s talent makes him hard to ignore for a team like the Titans that wants to compete now. Often, teams want to put three safeties on the field in nickel and dime packages, depending on how the defense matches up with the offense. Currently, the Titans have Kevin Byard, Johnathan Cyprien, Brynden Trawick, and Denzel Johnson as the safeties. A player like Reid would give the Titans a clear upgrade over Trawick, Johnson, and possibly Cyprien, which would strengthen an already strong secondary.

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Reid’s versatility is also a boon for new DC Dean Pees since Reid can play free safety, strong safety, slot corner, or linebacker. Reid’s ability to rack up tackles and provide elite coverage would make him a defensive chess piece for Vrabel and Pees who can fill a variety of roles and help cushion the loss of Avery Williamson as well, which creates even more draft flexibility because it diminishes the team’s need to invest a top pick in a run-stuffing linebacker. Furthermore, Reid may not have even reached his full potential yet at only 26 years old. He’s also coming from a team that suffered from a serious talent deficiency over the past couple of years, which could make this already talented, versatile chess piece even more valuable.

In summary, despite his recent controversy, Eric Reid makes sense for the Tennessee Titans from a financial standpoint, a talent standpoint, and a personnel standpoint. On top of this, the primary cause of concern in signing Reid, his potential anthem protests, will no longer be a concern for the Titans. For all of these reasons, hopefully Jon Robinson will make a bold move and sign Reid, a player that no other team seems willing to sign. A move like this will push a very strong secondary into elite status and make the Titans defense one to watch in 2018.

Next: Could the Titans catch a falling MInkah Fitzpatrick?