Titans perusing options at wide receiver

Titans perusing options at wide receiver

The so-called “legal tampering” period where NFL clubs can make contact with free agent players ahead of the market opening, begins Tuesday.

Free agency and the new league year are officially scheduled to begin Thursday.

There have been reports and speculation of the Titans having interest in New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, should the team be inclined to move him. There is also possible interest from the Titans in another former Saints wideout, Kenny Stills, as a potential target as the Titans are seeking a speed receiver to be a deep threat and take the top off the defense.

Stills turns 25 in April and would seem to fit the mold of what Jon Robinson has sought in free agency – second contract players with upside, but also with playing experience. That strategy paid off with another former Dolphins receiver last year in signing Rishard Matthews. Matthews blossomed with the Titans, catching 65 passes for 945 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Titans have needs at receiver, and per a league source are “poking around” in the upcoming wide receiver market this off-season, even after beginning a makeover last year with the acquisition of Matthews and the drafting of Tajae Sharpe. Veteran Harry Douglas and seldom-used Tre McBride are also under contract.

Last year’s Robinson’s tactics at need positions for the Titans was to address the area both in free agency and the draft. So the expectation is that Tennessee will pursue at least one wide receiver in free agency (or by trade) and also look for help in the draft as well.

Kendall Wright is a free agent and won’t be back, plus the Titans also lost Andre Johnson in mid-season when the veteran decided to retire. Return man and fifth receiver Marc Mariani is also a free agent and mostly likely won’t return in 2017.

Stills began his career with the Saints and produced a 900-yard receiving season in 2014, but was traded to the Dolphins the following seasons. Last year for Miami, Stills caught 42 passes, but was very productive with those receptions, averaging 17.3 yards per catch and hauling in nine touchdown passes.

Other free agent options at receiver could be costly or perhaps not worth a big investment.

The prize of the market is Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery, who will command a big pay day – something the Titans can afford if they choose with approximately $61 million to spend. But there are questions about Jeffrey as well, as he is coming off a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy in 2016.

Jeffery caught 52 passes for 821 yards in 12 games for the lowly Chicago Bears last season and has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume.

At age 27, he still is in his prime, if the Titans are inclined to go after the type of big target that has eluded them so often in the past with the likes Tyrone Calico, Paul Williams, Kenny Britt, Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham.

If the Titans are interested in a gamble – and this has not been Robinson’s M.O. thus far – there is converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor available on the high end of the pay scale and former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton (coming off shoulder surgery) on the low end.

Other receivers available include several on the back end of their careers, with Anquan Boldin being perhaps the most notable of that group.

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