With the NFL draft now in the past, and free agent signings relatively wrapped up we are fast approaching the start of a new football season in a couple months. A lot of different moves have been made, and this is SONTLive writer Simon Villanoz evaluation of every team’s offseason as of now. A division will be evaluated every week and a team released one by one. Today we cover The:
Titans sign RB Dion Lewis
Titans sign CB Malcolm Butler
Titans cut S Da’Norris Searcy
Titans cut RB DeMarco Murray
Titans cut DT Sylvester Williams
Titans cut DT Karl Klug
Rashaan Evans (22)
Harold Landry (41)
Dane Cruikshank (152)
Luke Falk (199)
Significant Undrafted Free Agents:
The Titans season ended in the playoffs at the hands of the Patriots. They really weren’t supposed to the beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round but they did off of the performance from their franchise quarterback. They follow up their playoff appearance by completely crushing the offseason. The Titans easily had one of the best offseasons in the NFL, if not the best in my opinion. I’m surprised not too many people are really talking about the Titans this year.
Let’s start with free agency where they really made a splash. They let go of Demarco Murray, but that wasn’t really a bad loss since he was already coming off of an ACL injury. In addition, they’ve been grooming Derrick Henry for a while now and he has already shown flashes of greatness. They did steal Dion Lewis from the Patriots, which I think is a great depth move. Also, it takes away a good weapon from the Patriots. Lewis compliments Henry well in my opinion, and it changes the offense up. Mariota will also be getting a running back who is a good pass catcher and offers more shifty movements. After signing Dion Lewis they then take Malcolm Butler. We all saw what a backup quarterback did to that Patriots defense without Malcolm Butler. Now just imagine what a team like the Steelers or Jaguars can do to the Patriots. Tennessee did everyone a favor by taking him away from the Patriots. Butler is 28 and is currently in his prime right now. So pairing him with the former first-round pick from last year, Adoree Jackson, gives the Titans a big boost in their secondary. Those moves were big enough to earn the Titans a solid B+ grade before the draft. They really didn’t lose anybody in free agency that they didn’t later find a replacement for who was at least equally as talented.
I thought their draft was great, and their undrafted free agent signings were very good as well. First off they select Rashaan Evans, who gives them a force to be reckoned with at inside linebacker. I thought he was arguably the best inside linebacker in this draft, but I wasn’t surprised he slipped a little in the draft. Evans is an extremely talented linebacker, but since he plays linebacker he just wasn’t going to be valued as high as some quarterbacks or even linemen. Rashaan Evans gives the Titans an instant starter, and he further improves this Titans defense. They then steal Harold Landry in the 2nd round. Landry is somebody who probably should’ve went in the first round. I think he may be able to challenge for the starting outside linebacker spots if not take it eventually this season. Either way, the Titans both improved and got younger at linebacker. They then took Luke Falk in the same spot Tom Brady was selected all those years ago. Falk is somebody I have really liked for years now. He’s extremely underrated and I thought it was simply blasphemous and disrespectful that he went so low. I don’t think Falk will challenge Mariota for his position, but he’s somebody that I think can definitely challenge Blaine Gabbert for his right now. Under some development, I think Luke Falk can be somebody special. A potential franchise quarterback in my opinion. I’m not afraid to call it now, but I can see a sort of Jimmy Garoppolo situation playing out for Falk and the Tennessee Titans. We all saw the importance of a good backup quarterback when the Eagles won it all this last year. In addition, we also saw how valuable a quarterback who’s looked good in a few games can be. At the very least, the Titans will at least get a couple good draft picks for Falk if not a good number of wins for them.
Usually, I don’t talk a ton about undrafted free agents, but I think the Titans have a really nice group that they picked up. At least one of these players will be great for them. They picked up safety Damon Webb out of Ohio State. He’s somebody who I don’t necessarily think is a steal, but he’s a good pickup. Webb is somebody who has been learning a new position at safety and has made significant improvements every year since switching from cornerback. He could surprise some people with his level of play. At the very least he adds good depth to the Titans secondary.
The Titans would also sign Akrum Wadley, a running back out of Iowa. Unlike Webb, Wadley is a steal as an undrafted free agent. According to NFL.com’s draft profile on him, he was a projected 5th or 6th rounder with concerns about his size/durability being the only problem. He’s an electric runner with elite athleticism, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t make the Titans final roster barring injury. Ironically, he reminds me a lot of Dion Lewis. He’s a very shifty and speedy back who has that homerun ability every team covets. I think he would be a great fit with Derrick Henry, and he will be great insurance for Dion Lewis who hasn’t been the most healthy running back over the past couple seasons. Oh, and Wadley is also a good returner. I see his ceiling being a Kareem Hunt type of surprise this season, and his floor being a good rotational back that contributes well. Lastly the Titans would sign Deontay Burnett a wide receiver out of USC who should’ve been drafted. He was projected to go in the same rounds as Wadley but wasn’t picked interesting enough. People are quick to forget that it was Burnett who caught 3 touchdowns and had 164 receiving yards in the same 2017 Rose Bowl that Juju Smith- Schuster played in. He followed that performance by having a good season with 1,114 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. Burnett’s numbers went down mostly because Sam Darnold played below average football for stretches last season. I think Burnett would be an excellent replacement for Eric Decker who was let go.
Altogether, the Titans had a great offseason and I think they are much deeper and talented at a lot of position groups after this offseason. Look for Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans to make more noise this upcoming season.
Tennessee Titans Final Grade: A+