Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson hit NFL free agency’s “legal tampering” period with a blazing start.
The trio of signings of safety Kenny Vaccaro (4 years, $26 million), receiver Adam Humphries (4 years, $36 million) and offensive lineman Rodger Saffold (4 years $44 million) have kept the Titans in the headlines early this week.
And there’s zero doubt: the Titans became a better football team. In fact, Jon Robinson has already reversed his two biggest mistakes from last offseason. In the spring of 2018, Robinson was not at all proactive with the wide receiver and offensive line positions… and he had the chance to be.
Offensive Line opportunity missed
The Tennessee Titans had an opportunity to upgrade the interior of the offensive line in the 2018 offseason after seeing the entire unit’s production decline, after being one of the NFL’s best in 2016. Both guards, Quinten Spain and Josh Kline, had their contracts expire following the 2017 season. Robinson brought both back on new deals instead of upgrading via free agency or the draft. Spain’s $1.9 million restricted free agent tender was fine, safe. Kline’s 4-year, $26 million contract was unnecessary.
The interior offensive line struggled again in 2018. As a whole, the offense allowed 47 quarterback sacks (obviously not blamed all on the OL), and the running game struggled to find rhythm until the month of December. Now, Spain’s 1-year tender has expired. The Titans are locked into Kline’s bad contract, and center Ben Jones has one year remaining on his deal from the 2016 offseason.
Jon Robinson nailed this opportunity to upgrade by bringing in Rodger Saffold from the LA Rams. The 2017 second team All-Pro guard is coming off a super bowl appearance and a season where he only allowed one sack and committed just six penalties. Pair this 6-foot-5, 323 pound freak athlete at left guard next to Taylor Lewan and the Titans have one of the best left sides in football.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 19, 2017
#Rams Offense: Nice Tunnel screen to the X off toss action.
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) January 8, 2019
Lewan is pretty thrilled about this idea.
— Emily Proud (@emily_proud) March 12, 2019
Wide Receiver drops, no more?
Fact: the Tennessee Titans had one of the worst receiver groups in the NFL in 2018.
Fact: losing tight end Delanie Walker to injury and veteran WR Rishard Matthews (left team) was too big for this roster to overcome.
My opinion: The Titans should have added a veteran receiver prior to the season, even with Matthews in the mix.
Last offseason I said the Titans were flirting with being “one injury away” at the receiver position to being is serious trouble. Matthews leaving the team in late September was that “injury”. Second season guys Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe were not consistent enough to carry the load. Undrafted rookie Cam Batson and practice squad journeyman Darius Jennings were counted on in big situations. It was too much. The Titans passing offense was fourth worst in the NFL. And dropped passes plagued it even further (Nick Williams dropped TD in Buffalo).
Jon Robinson failed to add any legitimate outside competition to push Taylor and Sharpe for playing time. For the most part, roster spots and depth chart placement for those two were safe.
Enter Adam Humphries, whose middle name might as well be “reliable” based on his four years in Tampa.
— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) March 11, 2019
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) March 12, 2019
Adam Humphries does three things really well: gets open, catches the ball, and converts first downs. His 48 first downs last season would have led the Titans (Corey Davis 47). Occasionally, Humphries gets into the end zone. Using him in the slot will only help Davis improve in year three after a great jump in year two.
Year 2 Corey Davis was something special pic.twitter.com/VdV5HtD6vY
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 12, 2019
The Titans have their veteran pass rusher in Cameron Wake, from Miami. Key word, veteran. Wake is 37 years old and has 28 total sacks in the last three seasons.
Former Dolphins’ DE Cameron Wake intends to sign a three-year, $23 million deal that includes $10 million guaranteed with the Tennessee Titans, per source.
Titans upgrading both lines and Wake playing younger than his 37 years.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2019
The Tennessee Titans have also brought back more depth on the offensive line:
Tackle Kevin Pamphile is re-signing with the #Titans on a one-year deal, source said.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 12, 2019
Kenny Vaccaro’s return to the Titans defense is getting overlooked. But don’t get me wrong, his physicality and demeanor makes the back end of the defense even nastier.
Featured image via Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports