Identifying the Tennessee Titans core players on defense after free agency

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
1 of 5

The Tennessee Titans are quickly transitioning from the Jon Robinson/Mike Vrabel era, into the Ran Carthon/Brian Callahan era.

What was supposed to be a multi-year project has been put on a fast track after a flurry of moves this offseason. Now the Titans have put themselves in great shape to take the bull by the horns and make a name for themselves in 2024 thanks to a much-needed infusion of talent and an improved coaching staff.

Even though the Titans are ahead of schedule, it is important to keep the goal in mind which is to build a team that is consistently competitive in 2025 and beyond. That process is going to heavily revolve around the key players on the roster.

The easiest way to identify which players are going to be important is to start with the core players. These "core players" have to be under contract in 2025 and should still be real contributors on defense in a year.

I recently identified the core players on offense, and just like the offense, the defense has four core players that the team should be building around.

Just missed the cut: Chidobe Awuzie, CB and Arden Key, EDGE

If the Tennessee Titans draft one of the blue-chip receivers in this draft class, they will have a strong argument for having the best trio of receivers in the NFL. I would argue that you could make a similar case for the Titans cornerback trio if you could guarantee a healthy season from Chidobe Awuzie.

Despite not playing a full season since 2019, Chido is a very good cornerback whose leadership and physicality will be a welcome addition to a defense that lacked both under the previous regime. He could very well be on this list next year, but I need to see it first.

Key gets a lot of flak from Titans fans, and some of that is warranted. He didn't make the impact that fans had hoped that he would, but let's take a step back and think about what Key should be in an ideal situation.

Key is someone who can be a starting EDGE, but where he is going to shine is as a guy who can line up all along the defensive front on third downs and can use his quickness and power to take advantage of linemen who aren't sure who is going to attack their gap.

If I had to guess, I would say that we are going to see Dennard Wilson get a lot more creative with Key than Shane Bowen was in 2023. Key is under contract for two more years and he is still just 27 years old, so he could make a leap this season and be a core player for the Titans if things go well.