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How Have Free Agents Paid Off Thus Far?

Jon Robinson's offseason spending spree landed ailing Bud Dupree, Josh Reynolds, who wanted out, a big return with Denico Autry and more.

The Tennessee Titans waded into free agency with a swagger last offseason and eventually spent close to $155 million – per Spotrac -- when players added during this season are included.

Included in that haul were three contracts of at least $15 million in total value – linebacker Bud Dupree ($82.5 million), defensive lineman Denico Autry ($21.5 million) and cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins ($15 million).

Only one other NFL team signed more players to contracts worth at least $15 million, per Spotrac. That was New England, which signed a whopping seven players in that category. Two others – the Bengals and the Jaguars – also totaled three contracts of at least $15 million.

What’s has been the return on that free-agent investment?

It’s a cloudy picture at present because of Dupree’s injury-related absence, which – at least to some degree – had been expected.

But here’s a 12-game look at what 10 of the Titans’ more notable free-agent signings have brought to the table:

Player: Ola Adeniyi

Position: Outside linebacker

Contract signed: One-year, $1 million deal

What’s happened since: Adeniyi qualifies as an overperformer based on expectations. He was brought in primarily to boost the Titans’ special teams, and he’s done so as his nine tackles in that department are tied for the team lead. But he’s also provided a nice defensive spark, as Adeniyi has recorded the first 2.5 sacks of his career, totaled 18 quarterback pressures (fourth-best on the team) and added 10 tackles.

Player: Denico Autry

Position: Defensive line

Contract signed: Three-year, $21.5 million deal

What’s happened since: The relentless Autry has made a huge impact on the Titans’ defense, a player who has been versatile enough to play on the interior line and on the edge. Autry’s ability to get after the quarterback has helped free Jeffery Simmons for some huge numbers. But Autry has racked up some serious stats as well in his 12 games – five sacks, six tackles for loss, 33 quarterback pressures, five passes knocked down and 19 tackles.

Player: Morgan Cox

Position: Long snapper

Contract signed: One-year, $1.2 million deal

What’s happened since: Cox has been anonymous, which is the perfect description for a good long snapper. Considered one of the best in the business, he’s been as smooth and stable as advertised.

Player: Bud Dupree

Position: Edge rusher

Contract signed: Five-year, $82.5 million deal

What’s happened since: It’s been a disappointing investment so far for the Titans, as Dupree has only been able to play seven games and is currently on injured reserve with an abdominal issue. Eager to make an early impact, Dupree later acknowledged he probably rushed his return from ACL surgery in December of 2020. As he appeared to be making progress on that front, the abdominal injury sidelined him after just one play against New Orleans. He has seven tackles, one sack, eight quarterback pressures and one pass defended. He’ll be eligible to return from injured reserve for the Dec. 19 game against his old team – the Steelers – though there’s no guarantee he’ll be back that week.

Player: Matthias Farley

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Position: Safety

Contract signed: One-year, $1.1 million deal

What’s happened since: Farley hasn’t seen much action on defense, playing just 48 snaps. But he was likely signed more with special teams in mind, and Farley has played 270 snaps in that department, more than 80 percent of the Titans’ special-teams snaps. He’s third on the Titans with eight special-teams tackles.

Player: Brian Hill

Position: Running back

Contract signed: One-year, $990,000

What’s happened since: Hill looked like he might be worth taking a flier on, coming off a career year in Atlanta that saw him run 100 times for 465 yards and catch 25 passes for 199 yards. But Hill made little impact in training camp, eventually beaten out for a roster spot by Jeremy McNichols and Mekhi Sargent. He’s now on the Browns’ practice squad.

Player: Jackrabbit Jenkins

Position: Cornerback

Contract signed: Two-year, $15 million deal

What’s happened since: Jenkins has been a reliable starter and producer for the team on defense, as he’s played in at least 90 percent of the team’s defensive snaps eight times this season. He has surrendered four touchdown passes, per Pro Football Focus, but Jenkins has overall been a plus for a secondary that was very much in need of experience. Basically a replacement for Butler, Jenkins came at a much lower price, enabling the Titans to do more with their budget.

Player: Kevin Johnson

Position: Cornerback

Contract signed: One-year, $2.25 million deal

What’s happened since: It’s fair to say this one didn’t work out too well. Signed last March to provide experience and depth at the cornerback position, Johnson – a former first-round pick of the Texans – decided to retire in June at age 28.

Player: Kendall Lamm

Position: Tackle

Contract signed: Two-year, $6.8 million deal

What’s happened since: The thought was that Lamm would at least compete for the starting right tackle spot this season, but – despite the opportunity – he has not been able to climb atop the depth chart there. Lamm has chipped in when needed, making one start. But unfortunately for Lamm, he might best be remembered so far for allowing a sack on the single snap he played against the Saints.

Player: Josh Reynolds

Position: Wide receiver

Contract signed: One-year, $1.75 million deal

What’s happened since: What the heck, Josh? Reynolds signed with the hope of improving on his 52-catch season with the Rams last season. His offseason and training camp were slowed by injuries, but Reynolds never appeared to have much of a burning competitive desire, especially after the team signed Julio Jones. He produced 10 catches for 90 yards before his release, and Reynolds caught his first touchdown pass of the season – for Detroit – on Thanksgiving.