There are still a handful of free agents left that have a strong connection to anyone in the Tennessee Titans front office or on the coaching staff, and Al-Shaair is one that many people have been keeping an eye on for a while.
As soon as the team allowed David Long Jr. to go to the Miami Dolphins on a very reasonable deal, Tennessee Titans fans had to imagine that there was something in the works at the position. Not only did the Titans have a plan, but it also mirrors what they did when they signed Andre Dillard.
Dillard was behind Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, who are both outstanding tackles. He has all of the athleticism and positive tape to get excited about, he just never got his opportunity to start (until now). The Titans brass decided that signing him was a high-floor/high-ceiling proposition at his price point.
With Al-Shaair, they again identified a quality player who was stuck behind two very good starters. Dre Greenlaw was named to multiple All-Rookie teams in 2019 and has been very productive for his entire career, which would be even more impressive if he wasn’t the second-best linebacker on his team.
Fred Werner might be the best off-ball linebacker in the NFL after being named first-team All-Pro in two out of the last three seasons.
AA-S was the next man up for the 49ers when Greenlaw was injured and the defense didn’t miss a beat. Considering that he has played 20+ snaps in more than 40 games means that he is seasoned enough to be penciled in as the Tennessee Titans starting linebacker next season.
Is the Tennessee Titans’ defense set?
Personally, I think that the addition of AA-S should be the last starter that the Tennessee Titans add on defense.
The focus should be primarily on offense anyway, but even if it wasn’t, there isn’t much you can really do to improve the starting talent on the Tennessee Titans’ defense. If the Titans retain Teair Tart (which is an aggravatingly big if), the defense will look like this:
EDGE: Harold Landry, Denico Autry, Rashad Weaver
DL: Jeffery Simmons, Teair Tart
LB: Azeez AL-SHAAIR, Monty Rice
CB: Kristian Fulton, Roger McCreary, Elijah Molden
S: Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker
That is a nice group of veterans and guys on their rookie contracts and it is also anchored by Pro Bowlers and All-Pros along the front and in the secondary. If guys like Fulton, McCreary, and Weaver can take a step forward, this defense could be deadly.