Now a week into free agency, the frenzy of landing big names at big prices is beginning to subside.
It is beginning to look as though the Tennessee Titans may be shifting into more of wait-and-see mode. The Titans welcomed four visitors to St. Thomas Sports Park on Monday and as of yet have not signed any of them, though at least a couple – safety Rashad Johnson and offensive lineman Louis Vasquez – would appear to fill needs at positions where the starting spots presently remain unclear.
With that in mind, let’s look at the primary additions the Titans have made this off-season and see exactly where those players fit. You can find a complete rundown of the Titans’ off-season transactions on TitanInsider’s transaction wire.
Tight end Craig Stevens (Re-signed for one year, $1.15 million base)
Stevens has been a sometimes under-appreciated player for the Titans since being a third-round pick in 2008. He has never been a big pass-catcher – his career high is 23 catches – but he is a fine blocker, a hard worker and a favorite of Mike Mularkey, who was his position coach until the middle of last season.
Cornerback Brice McCain (signed two-year, $4.4 million deal)
McCain essentially replaces Coty Sensabaugh, who signed with the Rams on Monday, as the Titans nickelback. The veteran knows Dick LeBeau’s system, having had his best season in Pittsburgh in 2014 with LeBeau running the show there.
Running back DeMarco Murray (acquired from Eagles for a swap of 2016 fourth-round picks)
Murray is expected to be the bell cow running back of the Titans, who got him from Philadelphia for the not-so-hefty price of moving back 13 spots in the fourth round of the draft. Murray even agreed to rework the $40 million deal that had four years remaining to help get him out of Philly and get a fresh start. Don’t expect 1,800 yards from Murray like he put up his final year in Dallas, but do expect far better than what he delivered for the Eagles last year when he was miscast in Chip Kelly’s system.
Center Ben Jones (signed four-year, $17.5 million deal)
A healthy, durable offensive lineman who should solve the issues that have plagued the Titans in the middle of their o-line for six years now. When all is said and done, Jones could end up being the most important acquisition by the Titans outside of what they do with the first overall pick. He never missed a game in four years in Houston and formerly played guard, though center appears to be his destination in Tennessee.
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews (signed three-year, $15 million deal)
Matthews has reliable hands and caught a career-high 43 passes in just 10 games a year ago. He isn’t likely to be the No. 1-type receiver that has eluded the Titans for so long, but if he comes in and turns into a reliable second guy like Nate Washington was, then this is a good move for Tennessee and another potential weapon for Marcus Mariota to use.
Quarterback Matt Cassel (signed one-year, $1.275 million deal)
Probably the most curious move made by the Titans this off-season, but the addition of Cassel certainly puts third-year pro Zach Mettenberger on notice that he will have to fight for the No. 2 position behind Mariota.
Defensive tackle Al Woods (signed three-year, $10.5 million deal)
Woods was a top priority for the Titans to keep in the off-season and was rewarded with a new three-year deal. With the Titans other defensive tackle, Sammie Hill, also a free agent and less likely to return, keeping Woods was important. Now, they likely will have to add a cheap free agent or draft pick to back him up.