5 Free Agents the Tennessee Titans Should Re-Sign This Offseason
Free Agents Tennessee Must Re-Sign
The Tennessee Titans have a lot of work to do this offseason if they want to make the leap from mediocrity to playoff contention. After missing the postseason for the fifth consecutive year, the team fired head coach Mike Munchak and have replaced him with Ken Whisenhunt, who served as the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator in 2013. From revitalizing the careers of Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews to overseeing the emergence of rookie Keenan Allen, Whisenhunt could be the key to taking the Titans to the next level.
Before Whisenhunt can get to work on the field, he and the rest of the Titans management team have some big-name players hitting free agency. Titans fans will be glad to see Kenny Britt let go, but many of the other free agents, especially on the defensive side of the ball, were significant contributors to the team this past season. On offense, Whisenhunt will have to evaluate the team's running back situation, especially in regards to a talented but struggling Chris Johnson and determine whether Jake Locker or someone from the upcoming draft will be the team's quarterback of the future. Either way, the Titans quarterback will likely be throwing to some different players next year with three impending free agents at the wide receiver position.
With so many decisions to be made on both sides of the ball, the Titans will have to choose the free agents they want the most. Here are the team's five biggest free agent priorities.
5. Marc Mariani
A Pro Bowl kick returner in 2011, Marc Mariani has missed been on injured reserve the last two seasons following his impressive rookie campaign. Without him, the Titans committed several costly miscues in the return game with his replacement Darius Reynaud. Reynaud was cut during the season and replaced by Leon Washington, but Washington will turn 32 next season and probably isn't a good long-term solution. It remains to be seen whether or not Mariani can overcome his injury issues.
4. Damian Williams
A contributor for his first three professional seasons, Damian Williams struggled with quad injury for much of the year and finished with career lows in catches and receiving yards this season. However, with Britt all but assured to be gone and Nate Washington a potential candidate to be cut, Williams should be resigned as a cheap option to maintain depth at the wide receiver position. Williams could also provide insurance in the return game if Mariani remains hurt.
3. Ropati Pitoitua
As a former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs player, Ropati Pitoitua played admirably while shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive scheme. With coach Whisenhunt's preference to play a 3-4 defense, the Titans should consider keeping Pitoitua, especially since 6-foot-8, 300 pound defensive ends are hard to find these days.
2. Bernard Pollard
Signing a one-year contract last offseason, Bernard Pollard led the Titans in tackles in 2013 with a career-best 134. As a contributor in stopping the running game and a veteran presence in the locker room, Pollard led one of the strongest secondaries in the league this past year. Pollard has expressed that he would like to be back with the team next season, and the Titans should do everything they can to accommodate the fearsome and hard-hitting safety.
1. Alterraun Verner
In 2013, the Titans allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the league. After being one of the leakiest secondaries in 2012, the Titans can attribute their improvement in pass defense to the breakout of cornerback Alterraun Verner. Verner had five interceptions and led the league in passes defended with 23. With cornerback Jason McCourty manning the other side of the field, the Titans arguably have the best cornerback duo in the league. Although a premier corner like Verner will command a lot of money on the open market, the Titans should do everything they can to keep this duo intact. Whether it's a long-term deal or a franchise tag, the Titans will make it a priority to keep Verner on the team.