Let’s talk Titans fans overreaction
We all play a game of clue during the offseason. At the rate we guess, Jon Robinson might as well be Professor Plum in the study. We are all Lennie Briscoe from the original Law & Order shows and….yeah, we are all “a bit much.”
We’ve discussed the change from the Titans prior losing seasons to the team playing well last year. This offseason has brought such hope for fans. Somehow I have been placed in the “not so fast” role. It’s alright, I enjoy the interaction. Maybe if we go over some simple things it will help others, though, from overreacting.
Myth to break down: The Titans will not be drafting Vanderbilt’s impressive inside linebacker Zach Cunningham because Robinson skipped his pro day to attend Georgia’s pro day. I knew it when I saw that the Titans re-signed Wesley Woodyard.
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The General Manager attending a pro day has never proven indicative of anything. The Giants general manager, Jerry Reese, only attends a few pro days. That’s it. ESPN does a nice breakdown here. Sure, Reese is not Robinson, but it’s simple to associate that with the Titans in a similar fashion.
A pro day is an up close and personal look at a prospect. It is a good opportunity for the team to evaluate a player on a personal level. Teams have coaches and scouting personnel that attend these events too. If Robinson was not comfortable with the staff at the Vanderbilt pro day, they wouldn’t be employed by the Titans anymore. He trusts their opinion and evaluation. That’s part of the purpose of a scouting and personnel staff.
The Combine is not the most important event. The pro day is not the second most important event. The “tape” (yeah we use that word in this digital age) is absolutely the most important. NFL teams also talk to teammates, coaches, and family to get a feel for the type of person they may be drafting. This is quite significant too. The Combine and Pro day are more like fancy measuring sticks. One caveat- the Q&A that players undergo is weighted heavily also. Those sessions from the Combine and pro day are significant. The Combine is a grand event put on by the NFL to show off the new players to the fans; in addition to team’s personnel. Don’t overreact to the show.
Woodyard was not a free agent. He was not re-signed “off the street.” He was not someone the Titans were afraid of losing in free agency because he wasn’t a free agent. Woodyard was under contract with the Titans. His contract was redone or re-worked or renegotiated so that it could be extended.
Spotrac.com and OverTheCap.com are wonderful resources for contract info. Fans should bookmark them. I prefer Spotrac.
First things first. Woodyard was not a starter. He was the Titans special teams captain in 2016. When the play of the inside linebacker suffered, he stepped up and started some. That’s what we call veteran depth, not “starting material.” He started ten games. It wasn’t insignificant but it wasn’t “laying claim” to a starting role either. It is always good to have veteran depth on an NFL team. That’s why he’s there. He’s an excellent “just in case” player.
Snap counts are a good indicator of how coaches truly feel about a player. Sometimes it may seem a coach is not being sincere, so I look to snap counts. If he plays the guy, he must have some faith in him. If he doesn’t, he must not. This isn’t perfect, but it does aid some here. Woodyard played 50 percent of the inside linebacker stats. These are available on several sites, including ProFootballReference.com.
Back to the contract. The first thing I look at is “what is he’s cut?” In the right hand column on spotrac.com is a column named “dead cap.” This will show what the Titans “eat” if they were to cut a player. As you can see with Woodyard, the page lists 2.75 million. One million of that is a roster bonus. The other roster bonuses (spelled out lower left) are given on the fifth league day in 2018 and 2019. 2017 is not specified. A roster bonus can be given at any time that is agreed upon in the contract. It is usually the first day of the league year, June 1st, or the first day of the season. Depending when Woodyard’s bonus is, if the Titans cut him, he will cost the team 1.75 million or 2.75 million; with the difference being the roster bonus.
The whole “Wow a 12 million dollar deal!” is not as big a deal when it gets widdled down. This is why I like to “follow the money” when trying to gauge a player signing.
The market is enormously important with free agents and contracts. There are not many quality inside linebackers left. That could have something to do with the team’s plans. For a veteran backup that can start some and be a special teams captain, 2.75 million is fine. It’s possibly cheap even. Robinson negotiated a good deal, at a good rate, for a good player. That’s all.
Minor note-The Titans have focused on special teams this offseason. This is yet another special teams player.
Sean Spence was supposed to be this starter at inside linebacker. He is a free agent the team did not re-sign. He, not Woodyard, was to be replaced by Dont’a Hightower, Reuben Foster, or Cunningham in fan’s daydreams. It was never about Woodyard.
A good reference for depth charts is OurLads.com. They’ve been around “forever” and also have a wonderful archive tool
I hope this helps with perspective and maybe gives you a resource or two to help you as you analyze Colonel Mustard.
Oh one more thing that is just a pet peeve of mine- The Titans have never and will never secretly sign a “big time” player to a “big time” deal. If “everyone” isn’t talking about it, and every newspaper printing articles about it, and every radio host discussing it….then no, it’s not a big deal. “It is what it is” is a fitting expression here.