The Tennessee Titans are adding their first reinforcement to the defensive front in former Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry, according to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2021
Autry’s deal with the Titans is for three years and up to $21.5 million—an annual average of $7.16 million.
This is the Titans’ first signing of 2021 free agency, and it’s a good one to start with.
It’s been a while since the Titans have had an interior defensive lineman capable of putting up impressive sack numbers, aside from former franchise cornerstone Jurrell Casey. That’s an ability that Autry has, and his production proved it.
In 2020, Autry recorded an impressive 7.5 sacks. That’s more than any Titans player had, and he did it from the interior of the defensive line.
While edge pass rushers get most of the glory in the NFL when it comes to getting after the quarterback, having capable pass rushers on the inside can be equally as important.
Autry will bring the Titans a much more dynamic third-down package. Having him rush the passer from the inside rather than Larrell Murchison or Teair Tart is a major benefit to the Titans’ defensive front.
He’ll also be a big boost to DL Jeffery Simmons, who needs to take another step forward in 2021.
This signing would seem to spell the end of DL DaQuan Jones’ time with the Titans. Jones, an impending free agent, has done nice things for the Titans in the run game since the team drafted him in 2014, but a pass rusher like Autry is more valuable to them at this point.
While signing Autry is a good start for the Titans, they shouldn’t stop with him. They also need to invest resources in at least one proven edge pass rusher, perhaps even two.
Cover image: Kirby Lee / USA Today