Analysis

Tennessee Titans Free Agency Outlook

Tennessee Titans Free Agency Preview

The Titans seemed to be one of the most injured offenses in the NFL last season with their top 3 offensive weapons — Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and key offseason acquisition Julio Jones – all missing time due to injury. Henry missed the last 9 regular season games of the season before returning for the playoffs, Brown missed four, and Jones (who seemed to be playing injured the entire year) missed 7 games in total. Even with all of these injuries, the team secured the #1 seed in the AFC with a 12-5 record under Coach of the Year Mike Vrabel. However, the Titans lost in the divisional round to the Cincinnati Bengals in a 19-16 defeat — a game in which the Titans defense sacked Joe Burrow 9 times and Ryan Tannehill threw 3 interceptions. 

Titans’ upcoming free agents:

  • C Ben Jones (UFA) – 97.9% snaps – 33 years old
  • LB Jayon Brown (UFA) – 38.3% snaps – 27 years old
  • TE Anthony Firkser (UFA) – 33.4% snaps – 27 years old
  • LB Rashaan Evans (UFA) – 40.6% snaps – 27 years old
  • TE Geoff Swaim (UFA) – 60.7% snaps – 29 years old
  • EDGE Harold Landry (UFA) – 89.5% snaps – 26 years old
  • LS Morgan Cox (UFA) – 30.8% snaps – 36 years old
  • WR Marcus Johnson (UFA) – 16.9% snaps – 28 years old
  • LB Nick Dzubnar (UFA) – 3.3% snaps – 31 years old
  • S Matthias Farley (UFA) – 5.2% snaps – 30 years old
  • K Randy Bullock (UFA) – 36.0% snaps – 33 years old
  • CB Buster Skrine (UFA) – 19.8% snaps – 33 years old
  • EDGE Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (UFA) – 18.9% snaps – 25 years old
  • DT Tevon Coley (UFA) – 0.0% snaps – 28 years old
  • TE MyCole Pruitt (UFA) – 40.5% snaps – 30 years old
  • DT Kyle Peko (UFA) – 14.3% snaps – 29 years old
  • CB Greg Mabin (UFA) – 15.6% snaps – 28 years old
  • LB Dylan Cole (UFA) – 4.9% snaps – 28 years old
  • WR Chester Rogers (UFA) – 39.2% snaps – 28 years old
  • LB B.J. Bello (UFA) – 0.0% snaps – 28 years old
  • RB Dontrell Hilliard (UFA) – 16.7% snaps – 27 years old
  • RB D’Onta Foreman (UFA) – 19.4% snaps – 26 years old
  • WR Cameron Batson (UFA) – 5.2% snaps – 27 years old
  • S Dane Cruikshank (UFA) – 37.8% snaps – 27 years old
  • K Sam Ficken (RFA) – 0.0% snaps – 28 years old
  • FB Khari Blasingame (RFA) – 7.1% snaps – 26 years old
  • RT David Quessenberry (RFA) – 99.9% snaps – 32 years old
  • EDGE Derick Roberson (RFA) – 7.8% snaps – 27 years old
  • DT Teair Tart (ERFA) – 31.4% snaps – 25 years old
  • WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (ERFA) – 55.8% snaps – 25 years old
  • QB Logan Woodside (ERFA) – 0.8% snaps – 27 years old
  • RB Jordan Wilkins (SFA) – 0.1% snaps – 28 years old

Losing C Ben Jones and RT David Quessenberry would be devastating to the Titans offensive line. Additionally, Pro Bowl edge rusher Harold Landry was scheduled to become a UFA until March 8th when the team signed him to a 5 year $87.5 million deal which included $52.5 million guaranteed. Before signing this deal, he was a candidate for the franchise tag. The total value and average per year on Landry’s deal exceeded that of the deal fellow Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree signed last offseason. Yet, Landry’s deal includes nearly $20 million more in guaranteed money. Other than these three, the team is set to lose all three of the tight ends on the 2021 roster – MyCole Pruitt, Anthony Firkser, and Geoff Swaim. This tight end by committee totalled 79 receptions, which would have ranked 4th in the league among tight ends behind only Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Dalton Schultz. Before Landry’s deal hits the books, the Titans sit $8,427,168 over the salary cap according to OvertheCap.com. Landry will likely not sign his deal until after the start of the new league year in order to keep the team cap compliant. 

Franchise Tag Candidates

  • EDGE Harold Landry
    • Signed contract worth 5 year $87.5 million ($52.5 million guaranteed)

As previously mentioned, Harold Landry was a candidate for the franchise tag prior to the 4 pm ET deadline on March 8th. Landry will be just 26 years old at the start of the 2022 season. His 12 sacks in 2021 were good for 10th in the league. Landry’s agent has been vocal since his signing about Landry’s love for the team and that he was “never leaving Nashville no matter what.” Landry is a driving force on the Titans’ defensive line that has become one of the best in the league. 

Titans’ top team needs:

  1. Offensive Line
  2. Tight End
  3. Wide Receiver #3
  4. Backup QB

With the potential loss of C Ben Jones (UFA) and RT David Quessenberry (RFA), the Titans top free agency need should be to solidify their offensive line. Jones will be 33 years old at the start of the 2022 season and has consistently been a top 10 center according to PFF’s offensive grades, allowing just 1 sack over the past two seasons. While Jones has been a mainstay of the Titans offensive line since 2016, his pass blocking grades have steadily declined over the past 3 seasons. With an offense built around the rushing game and All-Pro RB Derrick Henry, this is not as much of an issue as it may seem. However, Quessenberry’s 11 sacks given up in 2021 were the most in the league of all tackles. While he is one of the better run blocking tackles in the league and will cost much less than other UFA tackles on the market, his lack of pass blocking abilities could prove to be costly for his future with the team.

The team also decided to release 34 year old G Rodger Saffold. This move saves the team nearly $10.5 million against the cap and made the Titans cap compliant going into the new league year. While the move was necessary from a cap perspective, the Titans will now going into the new league year and free agency without 3 of their 5 starters across the offensive line from a season ago.

Additionally, the team went through the entire 2021 season without steady second and third passing options behind AJ Brown. Brown has been an elite receiving target since entering the league. However, the team’s tight ends and other receiving threats have been subpar at best. Other than Corey Davis in 2019 and 2020, no wide receiver or tight end other than Brown has exceeded 500 yards in the air. Tannehill’s uptick in interceptions thrown in 2021 could be attributed to the fact that he was throwing to a makeshift receiving core when AJ Brown and Julio Jones were injured. 

While the team is still on the hook for $29 million in guaranteed money owed to Tannehill this season, the Titans may begin to look for an upgrade at the back up QB position or even the eventual successor to the 34-year-old QB.

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