The Tennessee Titans’ biggest goal this offseason is to get the offense out of the dumpster fire that Todd Downing placed them in over the last two years.
There are a lot of things that need to change, but everyone knows that nothing is going to get better until the offensive line improves. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, but building a good offensive line is very difficult and there are only a handful of offensive lines in the NFL without a single weak link.
Right now the biggest weak link on the Tennessee Titans offensive line is at the most elusive position, left tackle.
There is a slight misconception that left tackle is a lot harder to play than right tackle in the NFL, but the fact is that great offensive lines have two good tackles because it is very easy to move someone like Micah Parsons or one of the Bosa brothers over to beat up on your right tackle if you have an All-Pro left tackle.
Having said that, there are more quality right tackles in the NFL than there are left tackles and that happens for a number of reasons but look at the Green Bay Packers as an example.
For a long time, the Packers would only draft offensive linemen who had played left tackle at some point in their careers. In fact, right now the current starters on the Packers’ offensive line have four players who have played left tackle at some point in their college career despite there only being one left tackle.
The reason they do that is that there are many colleges that put their best athletes at left tackle and then fill in the offensive line from there. So, if you want an athletic offensive line, it isn’t a bad idea to draft left tackles and then try them at other positions.
Earlier I used the Packers as an example, but you could actually look at the Tennessee Titans as a team that has a similar build. If they had even been slightly healthy, by Week 3 the Tennessee Titans offensive line should have been:
LT: Taylor Lewan (played left tackle in college)
LG: Dillon Radunz (played left tackle in college)
C: Ben Jones
RG: Nate Davis
RT: Nicholas Petit-Frere (played left tackle in college)
You might be asking, why any of that is important. All of that information was just to demonstrate this point, there are more veteran right tackles available than left tackles.
Why the Tennessee Titans should consider signing a veteran right tackle
There are a half-dozen offensive tackles that are free agents that could come in and almost certainly lock up one of the Tennessee Titans offensive tackle positions.
Mike McGlinchey, Kaleb McGary, Orlando Brown Jr., Andre Dillard, Isaiah Wynn, Jawaan Taylor, and Andrew Wylie all seem like they would be easy plug-and-play starters for the Tennessee Titans. The problem is, the left tackles are much more likely to be franchise tagged or given a massive contract than the right tackles.
Fixing the offensive line won’t be cheap, but paying Mike McGlinchey, who is someone that new GM Ran Carthon has experience with, a deal worth $10 million AAV is much easier to stomach than giving someone like Orlando Brown Jr. a deal worth $22+ million AAV.
However, the hope is that the new OC and offensive line coach can help develop young players like Dillon Radunz, Nate Davis (if he is back), and any rookie they might select, but specifically, they need to develop Nicholas Petit-Frere.
If there is an OC and an offensive line coach with a track record of developing offensive linemen at a high level or finding ways to scheme around younger offensive linemen, it opens up a world of opportunities.
The Tennessee Titans could upgrade their right tackle situation with a solid veteran that doesn’t need any help and they could have Nicholas Petit-Frere move back to where he finished college, which was left tackle.
I don’t think he is a perfect fit there, but at worst the Tennessee Titans will have solidified the right tackle position and added depth to both spots. At best, Nicholas Petit-Frere develops as most offensive linemen do from their rookie year to their season and he can hold his own at left tackle.
No one can look at what NPF did as a rookie on the right side and say that he is on track to be a Pro Bowler at that position, even though he was solid. So, if there is a chance to add a Pro Bowl right tackle then you take one less variable out of the equation.
Let’s say a new OC and OL coach come in and decide that they can make it work with NPF at left tackle as long as they have a Pro Bowl right tackle. The Titans then need to figure out all three interior line spots.
The Tennessee Titans could bring back Nate Davis for around $7 million AAV and solve right guard pretty easily.
Depending on whether Ben Jones retires or not, center could be an interesting situation. Personally, I have watched every snap Corey Levin has taken with the Titans since he was drafted (and re-signed) and I would have no problem with him and Aaron Brewer battling for the center spot in camp next year. The alternative would be to pay a free agent the going rate for a center, which is about $12 million AAV.
I still think that Dillon Radunz deserves a starting spot on the offensive line and he did his best work at left guard, but with his injury, at the end of last season, I would understand if the Titans wanted to keep him on the shelf and have him as a backup for every non-center position.
Maybe they kick the tires on bringing back someone like Rodger Saffold? If they can get him on a team-friendly deal then his injuries aren’t a big concern because the Titans would have Radunz in the wings ready to step in if he needed to.
All of that hinges on hiring an offensive coordinator and an offensive line coach that feels comfortable with the idea of developing NPF as the starting left tackle. If you can find that, you can rebuild the offensive line by spending about $22 million in free agency this year and it wouldn’t require any draft picks.
If you want the Tennessee Titans to be able to draft the best player available when the draft rolls around, then this is the strategy that they need to follow.