Tennessee Titans may have found a blue-chip building block in free agency

Arden Key #49 Tennessee Titans
Arden Key #49 Tennessee Titans / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The theme for Ran Carthon's first free agency as Tennessee Titans general manager seemed to be acquiring under-the-radar players who had yet to get true opportunities to prove themselves. Arden Key is someone who checks that box and is showing why that strategy might pay off.

This is Key's sixth year in the NFL, and he has had a rocky career up until this point. He is already on his fourth team, which is not always a good sign for a player, but he is one of those guys who truly might have been a late bloomer.

It shows in how he has progressed, as he is in visibly better shape than he was two years ago, and even talked about how he puts in way more work than he used to. The strides he has taken resulted in the first real contract of his career, and so far he has been worth every penny and more.

Arden Key has already impacted the Tennessee Titans in many positive ways

What is crazy about Key is that he has been making the Titans and their fans happy from almost the literal moment he was signed. It started in his introductory press conference, in which he called out the Jacksonville Jaguars for not paying him what he wanted, and saying he felt "disrespected."

He also mentioned in that interview that he is excited to "play them twice a year," so hearing him say those things about a hated foe like the Jaguars riled up so many people among the Titans.

Key would only add to the excitement around him once OTA's began, as he has been and continues to bring his infectious energy day in and day out. Nearly every time the Titans social media team has posted videos from any practice, he has been there yelling into the camera and getting hyped up.

It has been felt in the locker room as well, as many have raved about him being one of the more vocal guys since the beginning. It takes a lot of guts for anyone who is new to a team to be so vocal so early on, and that level of confidence can only mean good things, especially since it has been so well received by the rest of the team.

First impressions are vital in any walk of life, and while Key hit it out of the park there, he has only backed them up since, and more.

He was a force throughout training camp, reportedly giving the inexperienced offensive line fits, as well as showing out in a joint practice against the Minnesota Vikings. And as far as proving it in a game, he did way more than even that in the season opener.

Key recorded a sack and a half on the day, and was a total matchup nightmare for Trevor Penning. He really had two and a half sacks due to a certain strip sack that was inexplicably called an incomplete pass, but I digress.

It was not even the sack department in which he did well, he tied for first place in both pressures and pass rush win rate at edge in Week 1. It is not a stretch to say that his performance in the season opener was actually dominant.

On the surface, you might be a little skeptical of how consistent Key can be, given that his sack totals over the previous seasons are nothing spectacular. It is also just one game he has had this season that was so incredible, which could further suggest that he may come down to earth.

Well, it turns out that since last season, Key has been near the top of the league in the same two stats mentioned earlier - pressures and pass rush win rate (these numbers are not specific to EDGEs). It is not like he is coming out of nowhere and making plays, it has been a continual progression for him and an indication that this is not a fluke, but closer to the norm going forward.

At age 27, Key is also in his prime years, which is dangerous with everything else clicking in his overall game. He has worked harder and harder as his career has gone on, and you can see the results in his play as well as in how fierce he has become.

It looks like Ran Carthon may have hit a home run with the Key signing, as that contract right now looks like an absolute steal. Who knows, Key might cash in even more in a few short years.