Grading every Tennessee Titans move during first wave of free agency

The Titans are handing out some big contracts. But are they smart contracts?
Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars / Courtney Culbreath/GettyImages

Titans fans probably don't want to hear it, but so far, Tennessee's won the offseason. And maybe that's a notoriously damning title, but considering they're trying to move away from Mike Vrable's roster and reshape the team how new head coach Brian Callahan wants, it's not necessarily a bad thing – or hard to understand. The Calvin Ridley move was the headliner, but other signings like Tony Pollard, Lloyd Cushenberry, Kenneth Murray Jr., and Chidobe Awuzie have made the Titans one of the more intriguing teams to keep an eye on when preseason starts up in late July. And not all of those contracts are going to age gracefully, but you can't blame the Titans too much for trying. Here's how, at least at the start, these moves look on paper.

Grading every Tennessee Titans move during first wave of free agency

1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: B+

Deal: four-year, $92 million ($50 million guaranteed)

Outside of DeAndre Hopkins, the Titans' wide receiver group was a mess last year. Ridley immediately gives Will Levis basically two WR1s, which is a luxury that a lot of QBs around the NFL don't have. $92 million is a ton of money – more than it seems like anyone expected Ridley to sign for – but the $50 million guaranteed makes it seem a bit more reasonable. If Ridley, who's 29, still has a few more 1,000 yard seasons left in the tank, this deal is a slam dunk. At the very least, the Titans' deep-threat passing offense next year will be electric.

2. Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys: C+

Deal: three-year, $24 million

Next year will be Pollard's 6th year in the league, but only the 2nd that he's been a bonafide starter. And the optimists will point out how that means fresh legs while the pessimists will worry about giving basically the same deal that Derrick Henry got to a running back who's far less proven. He's coming off two-straight 1,000 yards seasons, though, and is only 26. Still, paying running backs big money never seems to age particularly well, and it seems like the Titans rushed some to make a move in a market that had plenty of intriguing options, even after the initial rush of signings. It's not going to make-or-break their season, but there's a head-scratching element to this signing – especially with Tyjae Spears already on the roster.

3. Lloyd Cushenberry, C, Denver Broncos: A-

Deal: four-years $50 million, ($26 million guaranteed)

Replacing 2023 center Aaron Brewer with Cushenberry, who was probably C1 on the free agent market this season, looks awfully good. The former Broncos center has played in – and started – at least 16 games in three of his four seasons, so the dependability is there. And even outside the fact that he'll immediately upgrade the quality of the Titans' line, paying only $26 million guaranteed for the market's premier center doesn't look bad, either. No one's quite sure if Will Levis is The Guy yet, but after getting him a star receiver, star running back, and star center, the Titans sure are going to find out.

4. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Cincinnati Bengals: B-

Deal: three-year deals, $25.5 million ($17.5 million guaranteed)

The good news is that Awuzie doesn't miss a ton of time and brings a lot of versatility: he's appeared in double-digit games in all but two seasons of his seven-year career, and has experience lining up on both sides of the field as well as in the slot. Like a lot of good-but-not-necessarily-great corners, his season-by-season performance is a mixed bag – according to Pro Football Focus, Awuzie has overall season grades as high as 83 (2021 with the Bengals) and as low as 52 (2020 with the Cowboys). The Titans' secondary needs all the help they can get, so rolling the dice on a player like Awuzie is fine, all things considered.