The Tennessee Titans offensive line will need to be rebuilt this offseason, and no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.
Let’s say that Ben Jones retires in the next week and the Tennessee Titans will hit the start of the new league year with four open spots on their starting offensive line.
While free agency will be their first chance to fill those needs, don’t forget that Mike Vrabel has some restrictions on who he wants on the roster.
On the March 1st edition of the OTP, Vrabel explained the first major hurdle that a free agent has to clear:
So, barring an elite talent, someone that is currently on the Tennessee Titans payroll essentially has to be able to vouch for a guy for them to even get an offer. With that filter in place, what options do the Titans have?
Mike McGlinchey is already being penciled in as the first free agent deal of the Ran Carthon era for obvious reasons. There are more factors that go into a decision like this, but McGlinchey is the best pending free agent from Ran Carthon’s former team, and since he fills a need for the Tennessee Titans it is a no-brainer on paper.
I agree that he makes a lot of sense, but Tennessee isn’t going to be the only team interested in signing him. He is just as likely to end up with the Indianapolis Colts as he is to end up in Nashville.
I have already written about why Kaleb McGary is a good fit for the Titans and how he has connections to the coaching staff (Charles London), so he would be a nice “1B” option for Ran Carthon and Mike Vrabel.
After that, you run out of premium candidates on the free agent market that also passes the Titans’ filter of familiarity.
Since the Tennessee Titans aren’t exactly sitting on a ton of cap space in 2023 (2024 is a different story) they might get outbid for both of those players and they have to be prepared for that. One option to keep in mind is the trade market.
It has never been easier to trade for a starting-caliber player in the NFL, and there is a player on the trade block who has ties to the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee Titans can benefit from the Denver Broncos’ previous blockbusters
Denver Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles is quietly being discussed as a player on the trade block.
After trading for Russell Wilson last year, the Broncos were always going to be strapped for cap space and draft picks in 2023. Things didn’t get easier after trading a first-round pick for Sean Peyton.
One way that they could improve both their cap space and add a draft pick is to move on from their left tackle.
At 31, Garett Bolles isn’t so young that he would fetch an incredible price, but he also should have enough tread left on the tires to make a deal make sense for a team like the Tennessee Titans.
Bolles could come in and lock down the Titans’ left tackle position immediately while only costing them $9.8 million in 2023. Considering the average veteran left tackle costs about $17 million AAV on the open market, this would be a hefty discount for Tennessee.
New Tennessee Titans Run Game Coordinator, Justin Outten was a coach with the Denver Broncos last season and he was even the interim coach for the last two games.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a dream scenario, but it is certainly a short-term solution to one of the problems that the Titans need to address this offseason. If things go well, they can come to an agreement about what to do in 2024 and beyond.
Even after this trade, I think it makes sense to draft someone like Paris Johnson Jr. or Peter Skoronski with the 11th pick because they both have the size to fill in as a guard in their rookie season before moving outside to tackle in year two.
Let’s play out the scenario. If the Tennessee Titans know that they can get Bolles for a 3rd round pick, and McGlinchey and McGary take deals that cost north of $17 million AAV, they pull the trigger. Once they know that they are saving ~$8 million in AAV by trading for Bolles, they can use that money to bring back Nate Davis.
When the dust settles, they end up with Garett Bolles, Peter Skoronski, Nate Davis, and Nicholas Petit-Frere as four of their starting offensive linemen. Sure, they miss out on a 3rd round pick, but they also cross three needs off of their list.
A crucial part of this is that Mike Vrabel promoted Jason Houghtaling from assistant offensive line coach to offensive line coach this offseason. He is about as unproven as it gets in the NFL and his career highlight is coaching Colgate’s offensive line for a season. Filling the majority of the offensive line with veterans or ready-made players takes a lot of stress off of one of the biggest question marks on the Titans’ coaching staff.