Who has a case to be the Tennessee Titans best free agent signing ever?
The Tennessee Titans don’t have a very long history compared to most of the league, but 20 years is enough to put together some strong cases for the best free agent in franchise history.
With all the talk of Delanie Walker‘s return and his status as potentially the best free agent the Titans have ever signed, it made me think about who he would have to beat out for that title.
I don’t think it is as cut and dry as people are making it seem, and these are the best players I can find from the last 20 years of free agency.
Delanie Walker TE, signed from the San Francisco 49ers
The most recent contender for the title, Walker has been a lot of things for the Titans. Whether he is the teams top target, a leader in the locker room, an unselfish blocker, or just a star toughing it through several injuries he has been an instant fan favorite in Nashville.
Ignoring last year’s freak injury in week 1, he has been a star for the Titans during his tenure. For the four years before his injury he averaged nearly 900 yards per season and did so despite drawing extra attention and often missing a game per year because of injury.
If he can put up two more years like that or even one in a season where the Titans go to the playoffs again, the case against him will be almost impossible to argue.
Kyle Vanden Bosch EDGE, signed from the Arizona Cardinals
In his only full season as a starter in Arizona, he tallied just 3.5 sacks and managed just 4 total in his four year tenure there.
So it is a huge surprise that he came in to Tennessee and became maybe the most relentless defensive player that the Titans have ever had. When I look back on the best era of Titans football, I don’t think about quarterbacks or running backs I think about the trenches.
You could argue that Vanden Bosch was the most dominant player on the Titans during their most dominant stretch in the last 15 years. From 2006-2009 KVB and the defense helped lead the Titans to 39 wins, more than any other four year stretch in that time frame.
He had two separate 12+ sack seasons in that stretch, which is something no Titans defender has done before or since including the great Jevon Kearse.
Nate Washington WR, signed from the Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington was the “proto Delanie Walker”. In an era with terrible QB play and run heavy offenses, Washington was the leader in the wide receiver room with his two best seasons (2011 and 2013) seeing him with 1,023 and 919 receiving yards respectively.
He probably has a weaker argument than most just because we are seeing Delanie Walker put up numbers like that from the tight end position, but Walker has had better QB play.
When Washington was grinding through seasons in Tennessee he was doing it with Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jake Locker as his for 16, 9 and 7 games respectively. Not exactly a shining example of dominance, though Hasselbeck was really fun to watch.
If the Titans could get someone like him now he would be much more appreciated both in Nashville and nationally.
Kevin Mawae C, signed from the New York Jets
Mawae is a Hall of Famer and a good part of that national attention has to come from his time in Tennessee. He was the leader on the offensive line when Chris Johnson rushed for 2,000 yards and his dominance is something the Titans have missed for a decade now.
He is probably the only Hall of Fame player the Titans have signed whose most impressive achievement has come from his time in Tennessee.
I should write more about him and talk about his technique, intelligence and “physical” style of play, but I wouldn’t do it justice. I really urge you to try to go back and watch that offensive line just absolutely maul people with Michael Roos and David Stewart on the edges and with Mawae dominating the dirty work.