Next up in our continuing series of Tennessee Titans offseason positional analyses is the safety position.
It's never a good sign when your starting safeties are amongst the team leaders in total tackles but unfortunately, that was the case for the Tennessee Titans in 2010. Thanks to an injury-depleted defensive line that wore down towards the end of the year and an anything but noteworthy performance from the linebackers, safeties Michael Griffin and Chris Hope ended up second and third in team tackles with 108 and 101 respectively.
If/when there's football in 2011, there's a good chance that we will see some changes at one of the starting safety spots. Thanks to a bounce-back year, Griff should stick around but veteran SS Chris Hope, who only has one year/$6.5 million left on his contract, could be a goner.
As I just mentioned, Michael Griffin rebounded from a nightmarish 2009 campaign by once again playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2010. He was often a steady source of playmaking and consistently served as one of the defense's bright spots last year.
You can certainly pencil Griff in as one of the starters at safety next year and beyond.
As for the his fellow starting companion over the last several years, Chris Hope, his future as a Titan may be in doubt.
Hope's still a solid leader and isn't bad in run support, but his ability to play the pass has slipped as of late. As a recent Tennessean article indicated, there's a solid chance that the Titans could pursue a veteran to take Hope's place in 2011.
We'll discuss a few potential veteran safety options a little later.
There's also a few youngsters who play the safety position who hope to improve and vie for playing time next year. 2009 draftee Nick Schommer and fellow 2010 selections Myron Rolle and Robert Johnson are younger players who hopefully can step up in the future.
With Hope's murky situation at strong safety, the younger players will have their shots to earn playing time in 2011. However, if a veteran is signed, we'll only see special teams contributions at best from the trio of young Titan safeties.
Two veterans I haven't mentioned at this point, Vincent Fuller and Donnie Nickey, are listed at the position but their contributions to the team have been in other areas (Fuller/nickelback, Nickey special teams). With Jeff Fisher no longer the sheriff in town, there's a good chance one of his favorite sons (Nickey) won't be around next year. As for Fuller, rookie Alterraun Verner forced the vet to the bench at nickelback and there's also a high probability that he(Fuller) won't be a Titan in 2011.
Now that we've taken a look at the safeties currently on the Titans' roster, let's examine a few veteran possibilities who could be acquired once free agency begins.
Baltimore's Dawan Landry is an adequate option who, in my opinion, could step in and serve as Hope's replacement if he is jettisoned. Other veteran strong safety possibilities are Gerald Sensabaugh (5 interceptions and 2 sacks for the Cowboys in '10) and Atari Bigby, a guy who has fallen out of favor in Green Bay but could still be a solid player on another squad.
Due to the combination of other pressing needs and an already existing array of young options on the roster, I'd be surprised if the Titans selected a safety in this year's draft. If they do, strong safeties DeAndre McDaniel and Tyler Sash should be available in the 3rd/4th rounds.
If the Titans really want to get creative and draft a young free safety and possibly move Griff to SS, then talents such as Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter and Chris Conte should be around in rounds 2/3.
Any thoughts on how the Tennessee Titans stack up at safety? You know the routine...feel free to leave your always-welcomed commentary below.