Derrick Henry

Predictive look at the Tennessee Titans free agency period

  • 2020 Free Agency
  • Tennessee Titans
By Jason Engstrom March 14, 2020 0 Comment
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Tennessee Titans free agency: a predictive look at the available cap, contract extensions, and available free agents to keep the Titans on top.

The Tennessee Titans season ended with a 9-7 record for its fourth consecutive season. However, it was anything but a run of the mill season. After sneaking into the playoffs, Tennessee was hot. Tennessee put down the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium during the AFC Wildcard. The Titans followed up the performance with a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, shocking the nation. Unfortunately, it came to an end, with Tennessee losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

Running back Derrick Henry took the NFL rushing title with 1,540 rushing yards, narrowly edging out the Browns’ Nick Chubb. Rookie sensation A.J. Brown was even better than advertised, showcasing the playmaking ability of a future number one receiver. In addition to flashing explosiveness, he racked up 1,051 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

The emerging Ryan Tannehill

After his stint in Miami, Ryan Tannehill was written off by most analysts and was an afterthought when evaluating offseason additions going into last year. After the incumbent Marcus Mariota struggled to a 2-4 record, he was replaced by the former Miami Dolphin. Tannehill took the reins and never looked back. Riding Derrick Henry and Art Smith‘s heavy play-action scheme all the way to the AFC Championship.

Oddly enough, after that performance, many Titans fans have been clamoring for Tom Brady to come and lead them to the promised land. Those Titans fans, unsurprisingly, are derived from former diehard Mariota fans. Thus began the social media civil war known as the rift. It will never be fully settled, and either side will hold the ‘I told you so’ cards in their back pocket for the moment that next year’s starter struggles. But, general manager Jon Robinson, will make that call.

Current Cap Casualties

The last few days have been a roster purge of older, higher-priced veterans. Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker was cut, which tugs at the heartstrings for most Titans fans. Another cut was the high priced and underperforming running back from New England, Dion Lewis. Others cut include kicker Ryan Succop and defensive end Cameron Wake. Right tackle Jack Conklin and cornerback Logan Ryan are expected to test free agency. It is all the evil necessity of running a successful NFL franchise. Higher priced, underperforming vets cannot be kept for sentimental purposes. The team needs to stay young and hungry. To keep their success rolling, the Titans must draft well.

Extend Derrick Henry

The first step in the offseason after the roster purge is deciding which unrestricted free agents need to be retained. Derrick Henry, the key cog of the offense, is the number one priority and will be resigned. Without Henry, the play-action system that offensive coordinator Art Smith is so fond of would struggle. The 300 carry curse is real for most running backs, but Henry is not most running backs. He’s 6’3, 247-pound frame is built for the rigors of carrying an offense and must be retained. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report predicts that Henry’s contract will be in the ballpark of a 4 year/$66 million. While that’s pricey, it is a priority.

Extend Ryan Tannehill and Dennis Kelly

After Tannehill’s success in Tennessee’s system last year, it would be a huge gamble to let him walk in the hopes that Tom Brady would sign with the Titans. Could Tom Brady be an upgrade? It’s possible, but it’s definitely not a foregone conclusion. Looking at contracts, the Titans best bet is a 3 year/$20 million deal. That would give the boys in blue some security for a few years, and allow them to draft and groom a proper successor.

Dennis Kelly has been an invaluable piece of the offense in the last few years. When Jack Conklin went out with a knee injury, Kelly filled in admirably. It actually sparked a few debates about moving Conklin inside and allowing Kelly to stay at tackle. When Taylor Lewan was hit with a four game suspension for a PED violation, Kelly once again put on his gear and went to battle. While he is not on Lewan’s level, the performance disparity between Kelly and Conklin is not as large as most think. Let Conklin walk. He’ll probably secure top dollar on the open market. Resign Dennis Kelly for a cheaper rate, and let him compete for a starting spot. Then, the Titans free agency can kick-off.

Cap space and positional needs

The signings of Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and Dennis Kelly leave approximately $36.6 million in available cap. The Tennessee Titans have a few areas where help is needed, but the only spot where they may break the bank is at outside linebacker. The lack of pass rush was evident through the playoffs, and the now-retired Dean Pees only got pressure with frequent blitzes. Live by the sword and die by the sword. It didn’t pan out in the AFC Championship Game, and an upgrade is necessary.

With Logan Ryan and LeShaun Sims both unrestricted free agents, another body to throw in the rotation is a likely move. It will be a cheaper one more than likely with Malcolm Butler‘s large cap hit and Adoree Jackson’s new contract looming.

Tennessee will probably sign a depth guy at defensive line and offensive line before they attack the 2020 NFL Draft.

Likely targets-Outside linebacker

Jadaveon Clowney has been a hot name circulated about the Tennessee Titans free agency, and he makes sense. Ironically, he spent time under the then Houston Texans defensive coordinator and current Titans head coach, Mike Vrabel. He is an elite run stopper and an athletic freak that offers plenty of pass rush to compliment Harold Landy. Clowney will not be cheap. Jerry Trotta of MSN predicts that Clowney will get a 6-year deal at $22 million annually. That leaves Tennessee with over $24 million in cap space.

Other options:

Vic Beasley (Atlanta Falcons)

Markus Golden (New York Giants)

Everson Griffen (Minnesota Vikings)

Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Value Free Agents

Offensive line options:

Jason Spriggs (Green Bay Packers)

Greg Robinson (Cleveland Browns)

Germain Ifedi (Seattle Seahawks)

 

Defensive line options:

Vernon Butler (Carolina Panthers)

Timmy Jernigan (Baltimore Ravens)

Derek Wolfe (Denver Broncos)

 

Cornerback options:

P.J. Williams (New Orleans Saints)

Kevin Johnson (Buffalo Bills)

Artie Burns (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Titans Free Agency-Predicted signings

Jadaveon Clowney (OLB)

Jason Spriggs (T/G)

Kevin Johnson (CB)

Vernon Butler (DL)

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