Free agency move proves the Tennessee Titans have faith in the offensive line

Indianapolis Colts  v Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Tennessee Titans signed long-time Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Chris Hubbard on Thursday night. That tells us a few things about how Ran Carthon and Mike Vrabel view the offensive line.

By far the most important thing that this tells fans is that they believe that second-year tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere is poised for a much better season this year as soon as he returns from suspension and that he is the answer at right tackle.

NPF's suspension gave the Titans the perfect excuse to go out and spend money on a veteran tackle that could feasibly lock down the right tackle job for six weeks with the possibility of the veteran actually taking that starting job for the rest of the season.

However, the prime candidate to do that was George Fant who wanted more than what the Tennessee Titans were willing to pay. Fast forward a few days and Fant has signed with the Houston Texans and the Titans have settled for Hubbard.

Unlike Fant, Hubbard hasn't been viewed as a viable starting tackle in years and that won't change in Tennessee, which likely means that the goal was never to replace NPF at all.

It appears that the plan right now is to give Jamarco Jones every chance to hold down the right tackle job until NPF is back from his suspension. That is fairly concerning, but it isn't a future that is set in stone.

What else does this move tell Tennessee Titans fans?

Aside from Jamarco Jones, two names have popped up a lot in the press conferences since the NPF suspension and they are both rookies.

The most recognizable name is Jaelyn Duncan who was the Titans sixth-round pick and a player that many people thought was the steal of the draft for Tennessee.

Duncan was a four-year starter at Maryland who has all the tools that you could want in an offensive tackle. The only reason why the Tennessee Titans were able to grab him so late in the draft is that people questioned how invested he was in getting better because he seemed to be comfortable with relying on his size and athleticism at the college level.

Since the Tennessee Titans drafted him, there has been nothing but praise about him on the practice field and it seems like he is in good standing with the coaching staff so it will be interesting to watch if he gets a shot to move up the depth chart throughout the preseason.

Someone else that has gotten a lot of attention is John Ojukwu, the UDFA from Boise State.

Ojukwu is another toolsy lineman with a long history as a starter (started 51 games in five years at Boise State). Like any UDFA, it is going to be a battle every day for him to make it onto the 53-man roster at all, let alone start at right tackle. Having said that, "OJ" is another guy that Vrabel has brought up on multiple occasions as someone that he really likes.

I'm not confident that any of these four replacement options will be competent starters for the Tennessee Titans in 2023, and that is a real concern. Signing Hubbard does give the Titans another option if they want someone who has started at right tackle in the NFL before, but fans should hope that someone else emerges and raises the bar, or else it is going to be a tough start to the season for the offensive line.