In a month, the Tennessee Titans will play the Arizona Cardinals in the 2021 season opener. Right now the Titans are considered favorites in that game, but a lot could change in a month. One thing that will certainly change is the rosters of both teams since the NFL mandates that every team cuts their team from 90 players to 53 players.
Generally, teams have somewhere between 5-10 roster spots that are actually up for grabs during the preseason. More often than not it comes down to how versatile the players at the bottom of the roster are, how much they cost, how long are they under contract, and what they can do for you on special teams.
However, every year there is a veteran or two that hits the market that can actually make a big difference on offense or defense for the right team.
Last year, Leonard Fournette was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and went on to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in rushing by a wide margin during the playoffs on their path to a Super Bowl.
At the end of the day, Fournette was more of a role player than a starter but he made a big difference as a part of their rotation, especially in the playoffs.
The perfect storm is happening in Arizona right now and the Tennessee Titans might have a chance to get some good inside information on their Week 1 opponent and add this year’s version of Leonard Fournette.
That player is the titular Jordan Hicks whose name should ring a bell since he has been in the NFL for six years and he has been a very solid linebacker during that time.
Here’s why the Tennessee Titans need Jordan Hicks.
Why Hicks? Well whether he is cut or traded, there are a few reasons why he makes sense as a target for the Tennessee Titans.
First, you can make an argument that Rashaan Evans is the starter that fans and coaches are least confident in heading into the 2021 season. Evans started off the season by getting kicked out of the Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos and from then on he just couldn’t get his feet underneath him.
Second, even if the Titans coaches are alright moving forward with Evans this year, that doesn’t mean that Hicks isn’t attractive to them as a rotational player.
In 2020, the Titans tried a few half-hearted attempts to use a 4-3 look on defense where they put Harold Landry off the ball next to Evans and Jayon Brown. Instead of forcing their best EDGE to play off-ball linebacker, trading or signing Hicks allows them to put three linebackers on the field with Brown moving to the weak side and Evans moving to the strong side.
Third, Jim Schwartz is very familiar with Hicks who was the starting middle linebacker for his Super-Bowl-winning defense in Philadelphia. Schwartz made his bones in the NFL as a linebacker coach in Tennessee before being elevated to defensive coordinator and then being hired as a head coach, so if he vouches for a linebacker then Mike Vrabel and company should take note.
Finally, this doesn’t have to be a one-year move. Both Brown and Evans are set to be free agents after the 2021 season. If history tells us anything, it is that Jon Robinson is not going to double-down on a former first-round pick if he doesn’t see the value there.
Hicks is only 29 and he is versatile, so signing him to add depth in 2021 and to help bridge the gap in 2022 is a good idea long- and short-term.