Tennessee Titans Free Agency Primer
The NFL announced the free agency negotiating period will commence as scheduled Monday and players can sign contracts on Wednesday, as originally planned.
With that in mind, here is a look at where the Tennessee Titans stand:
2019 Record: 9-7, second in the AFC South, advanced to the AFC Championship.
2020 Unrestricted free agents: Derrick Henry, RB; Ryan Tannehill, QB; Marcus Mariota, QB; Jack Conklin, T; Logan Ryan CB; Tajaé Sharpe, WR; LeShaun Sims, CB; Wesley Woodyard, LB; Daren Bates, LB; Kevin Pamphile, OL; Dennis Kelly, T; Kamalei Correa, LB; Austin Johnson, DL; Tremaine Brock, CB; and MyCole Pruitt, TE.
2020 Restricted free agents: David Fluellen, RB; Darius Jennings, WR; and Tye Smith, CB.
Salary cap space: $55,730,771 (source: Spotrac.com).
FREE AGENT GAME PLAN
With the 2019 NFL rushing champion (Henry), a Pro Bowl quarterback (Tannehill), a four-year starter at right tackle (Conklin) and the most versatile and productive member of the secondary (Ryan) all available, the challenge for the Titans is to try to identify which players they can’t live without and which ones they think they will be able to replace – at least to a reasonable degree – from a team that won nine of its final 13 games (playoffs included).
Henry is the one guy Tennessee must bring back, even if it means using the franchise tag to keep him. His combination of size, speed and power at the position is a rarity. Plus, he emerged as an important locker room presence late last season.
Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, is done and will be allowed to seek a new team on the open market. Tannehill is an obvious and safe choice at quarterback and seems inclined to stick around, if given the opportunity. Although, given the unusual nature of this year’s free agent quarterback group, it is possible Tennessee will look to bring in someone new.
Conklin and Ryan figure to be hot commodities and likely can command salaries beyond what the Titans can offer, given that they must pay Henry and a starting quarterback.
After last year’s miss on Cameron Wake (he was released Wednesday), it is time to take another stab at finding a proven pass rusher to add to the defense.
FIVE FREE AGENT TARGETS
Tom Brady, QB (New England): Arguably the biggest free agent prize in history has direct connection to the franchise through coach Mike Vrabel, a former teammate, and general manager Jon Robinson, a former front office staffer with the Patriots. He has first-hand knowledge of what this team can do after Tennessee whipped New England in the 2018 regular season (34-10) and eliminated the Patriots from the 2019 playoffs (20-13). If he does decide to find a new team, this could be the one.
Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end (Seattle): The first overall pick in the 2014 draft has never quite lived up to expectations, but Tennessee primarily would expect him to do one thing – get after the quarterback. His career-high is 9.5 sacks, which is not an overwhelming number, but on a defense with that features disruptive linemen Jurrell Casey and Jeffery Simmons, and linebacker Harold Landry on the other side, Clowney could find himself in the backfield much more often than usual.
Matt Judon, outside linebacker, (Baltimore): A fifth-round pick in 2016, he is the kind of free agent general manager Jon Robinson likes – he has been productive and has improved his numbers as he has gone (he had a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2019). If Clowney’s price tag is too high or if he signs elsewhere, Judon would hardly be a consolation prize.
Bryan Bulaga, tackle (Green Bay): He is 31 years old and a veteran of 115 games, but injuries have caused him to miss games in six of his nine seasons. He won’t be cheap, but he will cost less than Conklin, and he is a proven right tackle. In short, he is the kind of guy you can sign with the idea that you also will draft someone at that spot and then see how long Bulaga can hold off the rookie.
Bradley Roby, cornerback (Houston): With Logan Ryan and LeShaun Sims ready to hit the open market, Tennessee will need to add a veteran presence at cornerback. Roby was a first-round pick (31 overall) in 2014 by Denver but did not become a full-time starter until his fifth season. He is experienced, productive (he has had at least one interception in each of his six seasons) and he worked with new secondary coach Anthony Midget last year at Houston.