New faces: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron Wake, QB Ryan Tannehill, DT Brent Urban, DT Jeffery Simmons, WR A.J. Brown
They’re gone: OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Derrick Morgan, S Johnathan Cyprien, DT Bennie Logan, G Josh Kline, TE Luke Stocker, G Quinton Spain, QB Blaine Gabbert
2019 snapshot: A small-market team that hasn’t won double-digit games since 2008, the Titans don’t draw many headlines, but they’ve been perhaps the league’s most aggressive team under GM Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel. For the second consecutive year, they handed out multiple major deals in free agency and then took heavy risks in the draft.
The question is whether that aggression makes sense, especially for two men who learned from the famously patient Patriots.
Saffold (four years, $44 million) and Humphries (four years, $36 million) should both help contract-year QB Marcus Mariota, but neither contract has an easy out if either flops. Tennessee also paid the 37-year-old Wake (three years, $23 million) handsomely, giving the team two undersized starting edge rushers along with Harold Landry.
Brown should contribute early, but his fit is odd — he’s best in the slot, where Humphries thrives and where Corey Davis has flashed at times. Despite adding Brown and Humphries, Tennessee’s offense still lacks perimeter speed. Meanwhile, the Titans’ first-round pick, Simmons, is recovering from a torn ACL and might not play this year, leaving just eight healthy picks from the past two drafts on the roster.
Making things more interesting, it’s possible that Tannehill starts more games than Mariota this year, whether due to injury or ineffectiveness. Either way, it seems like they might be shopping for a new QB next spring.
Get to know… LB Jayon Brown
Primarily a sub-package player through his first two seasons, Brown has flown under the radar despite being a critical piece of Mike Vrabel’s defense. He can cover (one INT, six PDs in 2018) and blitz (six sacks) and should move to more of an every-down role in 2019.
Worth the investment?
–The Titans have reached nine wins in three straight seasons, making the over on their 8-win total look reasonable, especially given Tannehill’s presence as a safety net. Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement makes the schedule slightly easier as well.
–If you’re into extreme longshots, why not consider Derrick Henry for MVP at +20000? If the Titans ride him like they did late last season, he could have the volume to get in the conversation.
Bottom line: Tennessee looks improved in spots but took plenty of risks, and the pieces don’t quite seem to fit right. If Mariota doesn’t blossom, serious changes could follow next year.