Who should the Titans sign now?
Dont’a Hightower is still an intriguing addition. The productive inside linebacker could make a considerable impact for the Titans defense. The Titans are amongst a few teams that are reportedly interested in him, along with the New England Patriots.
For two years now, I’ve written how the Titans should sign Kamar Aiken. He was a restricted free agent last offseason and is currently an unrestricted free agent.
The Titans have publicly stated that they are looking for a wide receiver that can take the top off a defense. Aiken was timed in the 40 at 4.45 seconds. It’s debatable if he could be that guy. He is certainly not Deion or CJ fast, but 4.45 isn’t slow either. This isn’t what I consider redeeming about Aiken, but it’s probably fair to state this first.
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Have you heard all this talk of former Patriots that Titans General Manager Jon Robinson once scouted? Aiken is one of those. After playing ball at UCF, he went to the Buffalo Bills. Then he was signed by the Patriots. After a season in New England, Aiken went to Baltimore. Many know Aiken as a Raven, but he was a Patriot at one point too.
From what I gauge that the Titans are looking for in a wide receiver, Aiken is a perfect fit. The “no name” wideout stepped up in a big way in 2015. He was fifth on the depth chart during the summer. After injuries stymied the Ravens wide receiving corps, Aiken rose to the occasion. From week 8 on, Aiken had 56 receptions for the Ravens. As teams began to double cover Aiken and/or roll coverage his way, he still produced as if he’s a classic #1 wide receiver. He finished the season with 944 receiving yards.
In 2016, Aiken went back to his backup role. He only had 29 catches for 328 yards. He didn’t whine and call out the team publicly on social media. He contributed on special teams playing 35 percent of the Ravens special teams snaps. Here is a guy doing exactly what is asked of him regardless of whether it is a considerable or minimal request. He’s also clearly “a businessman.” He minds his and tends to his.
Rishard Matthews’ catch percentage in 2016 was 60 percent. Aiken’s in 2016 was 58 percent, 59 percent in 2015, and 75 percent in 2014.
Aiken is not a number one wide receiver. He is a complimentary player. This is not the coveted type of wide out that is 6-6 and runs like a gazelle, but he would be a necessary piece of the puzzle for the Titans.
The Titans run first, run often, offense was likely not going to be enough to quench Brandin Cooks’ thirst. He was unhappy with the amount of targets from Drew Brees. How would he have reacted when DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry run “all day?”
The Titans occasionally need to move the ball through the air. They need wide receivers who can keep a drive alive when the running game failed on first and second downs. They weren’t likely to have a 1500 yard wide receiver. Matthews seems to have been exactly what they were looking for. The staff praised him after most games and he didn’t even have 1000 yards receiving. Before he retired, ol’ Andre Johnson did “nothing” most of the game and then would step up and make a key third down grab or key touchdown reception. Harry Douglas didn’t play much in 2016, yet he was often “thrown into” key situations where he was asked to make a play. This type, this style of player, that’s Kamar Aiken.
Another wide receiver might be Steve Johnson, formerly of the Chargers. He is an oft-injured player, but productive when healthy. He played most of his career in Buffalo. He had three 1000 yard seasons with the Bills. Last season, with eight starts, he had 497 yards which would roughly project to 1000 again. Again, if Matthews is the Titans number one wide receiver, Johnson would be a fine complimentary player.
Email Q, Anquan Boldin would be fine, sure. This is along the lines of Adrian Peterson. If the future hall of famer is going to accept low pay to play one more season, I would like the Titans to add any future hall of famer. The position doesn’t even matter, just sprinkle some greatness to the roster and hope the addition influences the younger players. These types of moves happen late, in May or June, after the market hasn’t been favorable to the older players.
I could imagine the Titans signing Ryan Griffin, sure. He was reasonably productive for the Texans. He seems to be a good player that wouldn’t command a huge salary. The Titans lost Anthony Fasano to the Dolphins. Fasano was an efficient blocker. I’m not sure that Griffin could block as well, but…sure he could be a backup tight end for them. I would have to watch more of him blocking to be able to say whether I think he could play most downs opposite Delanie Walker. If the Titans goal is simply to add a tight end opposite Walker, they should be able to do that in free agency.
If the Titans goal is simply to add a tight end opposite Walker, they should be able to do that in free agency. Rookie tight ends usually have an adjustment period before they can block well at the NFL level. I don’t imagine the Titans draft a tight end to replace Fasano.
Phillip Supernaw was re-signed, but only after Fasano signed with the Dolphins. There was never this impression that he could “steal” Fasano’s job, so I’m not sure that the Titans feel he is a Fasano replacement.
Offensive linemen- I wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans added an offensive lineman or two. A team can always use quality depth. I don’t think Robinson is completely ignoring offensive linemen because the unit blocked well in 2016.
Most of the 3-4 defensive ends are over 30 years old. This is probably not a position where they add a player in free agency.
Dontari Poe is from Memphis and many have written of their hopes the Titans add him. After adding Sylvester Williams, it is probably doubtful the Titans sign Poe. Technically all free agents cost are their signing bonus and roster bonus if they don’t make the team. (Unless guaranteed money has been announced) Yes, it is possible the Titans still add “your favorite player,” but I’d strongly lean toward unlikely.
There are many average inside linebackers remaining. None of them have stood out to me. I predicted Hightower and Lawrence Timmons as additions. There is an obvious hole in the Titans defense still. Reuben Foster looks outstanding and he should be available for the Titans to draft. Zach Cunningham is very impressive too. I imagine Robinson is well-covered here and still has “something up his sleeve” to fill the inside linebacker spot.
This is a very strong draft for cornerbacks. NFL teams have cut many cornerbacks lately. They have generally been “names” that didn’t really live up to their lofty pay in 2016. This gives the appearance that there are many teams that expect to replace these veterans with a cornerback they will draft. The question for the Titans staff is- are any of these cut players worth bringing in? Was it an off year or are they just not that good anymore? The cuts are sudden and somewhat surprising, so I imagine this is a weekend task for the Titans staff.
At safety, I still think the Titans would be well served to bring Rashad Johnson back. I played well starting over Kevin Byard and as a backup to him. I am also still inclined to suggest Daimion Stafford return. He wasn’t a highly paid player. There’s almost no discussion of him on twitter except for a few Bucs and Colts articles. The Titans have signed strong safeties, but I think Stafford could wind up winning a spot in camp anyway. Curtis Riley is still on the roster and Stafford was always higher up the depth chart than Riley.
Aside from a player “here N there,” I think the Titans will look to shore up depth as free agency continues. I don’t think we’ll read of many exciting additions, but core team-first players that improves their depth.
The Titans were remarkably healthy last season. Quite candidly, the most healthy I can ever remember an NFL team being throughout an NFL season. Some injuries are expected each season. It’s inevitable. They’re going to have to add depth. It’s highly unlikely they have so few injured as in 2016.
Aaron Wallace (technically junior, Jr.) is still “sitting pretty.” Again, with his college coach as his linebacker coach and his production as the season closed, the Titans could simply be planning on him manning the open inside linebacker slot. I’m quite hesitant, but we may be projecting a hole to be filled that the Titans don’t feel they have.
If the Titans don’t sign Hightower, IDP Fantasy football folks should pick up Wallace. If they draft a top ILB, then you can cut Wallace from your team and it’s not big deal. If they don’t, you could have an IDP “steal” there. I think it’s worth picking him up and “sitting on him” for a month or two.