Robinson on Roster Building: 'I Love It'
For Jon Robinson, these are the good times.
The free agency signing period continues and the 2020 NFL Draft is not far off. In many ways, this is when the reputation of NFL general managers is made, and the man who has the final say on personnel decisions for the Tennessee Titans could not be happier.
“I don’t like it. I love it,” Robinson said in an in-house video posted to the team’s website last week. “I love the strategy involved in building a team. I love getting to know these draft players and seeing what makes them tick, spending time with them, having a vision for them and then seeing if their personalities and their core characteristics are going to match up with ours as a football team.”
This is the fifth offseason the Union City, Tenn. native and his staff have put together the Titans’ roster, but this one is different than any other.
Each of his first four finished with 9-7 records but the last one notched a pair of playoff victories and reached the AFC Championship game. Typically, his biggest moves have involved adding new players to the lineup, guys like center Ben Jones (2016), cornerbacks Logan Ryan (2017) and Malcolm Butler (2018), wide receiver Adam Humphries (2019) and guard Rodger Saffold (2019).
Thus far in 2020, his biggest moves have involved players who already were here. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was re-signed. Running back Derrick Henry was retained with the non-exclusive franchise tag (a first for Robinson). And Dennis Kelly was re-signed to a deal that effectively promoted him to starting right tackle. Conversely, tight end Delanie Walker and kicker Ryan Succop were among those released. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey was traded.
“The reality of it [is] we were two games away from winning a championship,” Robinson said. “We were one game away from the Super Bowl. We’ve got to retool the team. I would hesitate to say it’s a rebuild.
“We’ve got to add pieces to the team. We’ve got a lot of good football players on this team that have bought into the philosophy of how we want to play the game, to the culture that we have here in Nashville. And we’ve got to continue to add pieces to this core.”
The Titans have agreed to terms with outside linebacker Vic Beasley (the deal has not been formally announced) and two other role players.
As of Sunday, Tennessee had just shy of $24.5 million in salary cap space (source: OverTheCap.com). Only nine teams had more to spend but only four teams had fewer players under contract.
So, Robinson will have to spend wisely between now and the start of training camp.
“I think we reset expectations every single year,” he said. “We have high expectations for ourselves internally. But we know it’s going to be a new football team this year, and it’s about that team coming together like the 2019 team did.”