We're not quite two weeks into free agency, but the main rush has happened and the Tennessee Titans have very likely made all of the major moves they'll make, so I thought it would be useful to take a step back and see where the Titans stand, in terms of what they've done and which holes on the depth chart remain to be filled. I'll cover the offense in this post and the defense in a separate post. I will be doing things position by position.
Moves: Released Matt Hasselbeck, signed Ryan Fitzpatrick
Roster: Nathan Enderle, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
Commentary: Locker is your starter, Fitzpatrick the backup, Enderle and Smith compete for the third-string job. The Titans will add somebody for rookie minicamps, but there were no holes on the depth chart here and Fitzpatrick filled the one they created.
Moves: Signed Shonn Greene, re-signed Quinn Johnson, re-signed Darius Reynaud
Roster: Darren Evans, Shonn Greene, Jamie Harper, Chris Johnson, Quinn Johnson (fullback), Collin Mooney (fullback), Darius Reynaud
Commentary: Javon Ringer's departure created a hole at RB-2, which was filled by the signing of Greene. Retaining QJ filled the hole his temporary departure created at FB-1, though with a modest signing bonus and minimum salaries, he's not a lock for the team. Do they look for an upgrade at RB3 over Evans/Harper?
Roster: Diondre Borel, Kenny Britt, Michael Calvin, Lavelle Hawkins, Marc Mariani, Michael Preston, Roberto Wallace, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
Commentary: No holes on the depth chart and no moves, but the Titans haven't been quite as inactive here as I presumed they would be. Nate Washington is the old man of the group and the only real veteran, yet the Titans have perhaps soured on him. Would they go with a receiving corps in which Kenny Britt is the most experienced player? Highly doubtful in my book, but you never know. What remains in free agency is perhaps most generously described as slim pickings. The youth and lack of quality veteran options makes me think the top four they have is the top four that'll see opening day, but I'm less confident of that than I was a month ago.
Moves: Signed Delanie Walker
Roster: Brandon Barden, Beau Brinkley (LS), Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Delanie Walker, Martell Webb
Commentary: The addition of Walker fills the hole on the depth chart created by the departure of Jared Cook. Does Loggains like Thompson? His playing time didn't go down after the coordinator change, but Cook's injured may have played a role there. If Loggains likes Thompson, it's easy to see the Titans being confident with a top three of Stevens, Thompson, and Walker, even with a TE-heavy offense. I could see the Titans making a minor addition here, for more competition at fourth tight end than Barden or Webb (if you're going to use three, carrying three isn't enough), but strongly doubt they add an inexperienced play to fill the potential receiving void.
Moves: Placed Steve Hutchinson on reserve/retired, tendered RFA Fernando Velasco, non-tendered ERFA Kevin Matthews, non-tendered RFA Kyle DeVan, signed Andy Levitre, signed Rob Turner
Roster: Eugene Amano, Daniel Baldridge, Andy Levitre, Mike Otto, Michael Roos, David Stewart, Byron Stingily, Kasey Studdard, Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco
Commentary: Levitre fills the hole at LG-1 created by Hutchinson's retirement (a spot nominally occupied by Velasco at season's end). The departures of Leroy Harris, Deuce Lutui, and Mitch Petrus leave the depth chart at right guard completely blank. Many Titans observers, including yours truly, consider it basically a foregone conclusion that Eugene Amano won't make the 2013 Titans, but he's still around. Is he a candidate to take over at RG-1? Never say never, but I doubt it. If not him, then who?
The cupboard isn't completely bare in free agency, as Brandon Moore, most notably, is still available as a short-term solution. Assume they carry at least 8 offensive linemen, more likely 9. They're set at the tackles with Otto, Roos, Stewart, and Stingily. The interior locks are Levitre, Turner, and Velasco. They need at least one more interior player, that right guard starter, and likely another guard backup. Studdard could fill that latter role, but I don't like him as a starter and doubt the Titans do either. The free agency cupboard isn't completely bare, with Brandon Moore, most notably, still available. Another name to keep in mind, though he could easily find work as a tackle for more than the Titans want to pay him, is Eric Winston. With Sebastian Vollmer finally signing, the right tackle movement probably starts to shake up and Winston finds work elsewhere. If he doesn't, and teams are reportedly concerned with his health, keep him in mind. I don't expect the Titans to add a veteran guard, though, which means it would be a very high priority in the draft.
Next post, the defense.
It would not surprise me if the Titans picked a Tight End on one of the first two days of the draft. I don't see a pass catching TE on the roster and Delaney Walker (averaging 20 catches a year over the past two seasons) certainly isn't a replacement for Cook. And there is no evidence that Thompson can be that guy either. I can't believe that the Titans will go into next season without a better pass catching option at TE in this make-or-beak-year. The tenth pick is likely too early to go TE, but Eifert or Ertz might still be available at number 40.
As for the O-line, I am getting concerned that the Titans have finished adding pieces to it that could have an immediate impact. Amano is still on the roster, and Munchak might still believe that he is worth the value of his contract. While I still think they will draft an OG, I am starting to doubt that OG will be their first round selection, and they may end up waiting to get one until Day 3.
@Scott P We'll see about tight end. I think they see a much bigger role in the passing game for probably all of Stevens, Walker, and Thompson. They (well, Henshaw at least) did it with Erron Kinney, and he was reasonably productive at it. I just think there are enough needs elsewhere that adding a receiving tight end, especially another young one, is not a high priority.
I was behind in my "listening to what the decision-maker said" but got mostly caught up tonight. In an appearance with Kuharsky and the Midday180 crew on March 14, Webster said "We will address the right side [of the offensive line] at some point in the draft, yeah." He went on to add "First, second, third rounds, there'll be guards all the way through that could come in and start for us." I think there's a good chance they address it sooner rather than later, but I would bet an awful lot of money the Titans take a guard in the first three rounds of the draft with the intent of starting that player this season.
As always, thanks for the comment.