Tennessee Titans fans are clamoring for the franchise to sign veteran fullback and tone-setter Vonta Leach in NFL free agency. Most Titans fans remember Leach as the devastating run-blocker who gave Tennessee fits from 2006-2010 when he played for the Houston Texans. Another proponent of Leach will likely be Bernard Pollard if the Titans can get him back. Pollard and Leach were both reportedly great team leaders who brought tempo and tone to a championship team. However, there are many factors to consider here, and it just isn’t the right move for the Titans based on a few key points.
The Titans are looking to implement a version of what the San Diego Chargers ran last year when Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator. In that scheme, Whisenhunt only used a fullback on 134 of the 1,128 total offensive snaps last year. If the Titans are going to carry a fullback on the roster in 2014 then it will have to be someone who can contribute on special teams. That points to someone like Collin Mooney who has done that in the past.
While Leach likely won’t seek a top-three fullback contract, he will still ask for well above league minimum. The Titans don’t have a massive amount of cap at this point, and even if they make the cuts many expect them to make, that money should be going toward solidifying offensive line and signing splash players like pass rushers and possibly a new cornerback.
Leach is 32 and will be 33 by midseason next year. Fullback is a rough position to play for 10 years, and if the Titans did invest significant money in Leach and he couldn’t finish the season it would through a wrench in the already precarious Tennessee offense. Currently the Titans seem to be shifting towards a more power running team. While Leach fits that ideal in theory, his age is something that most teams (including the Titans) will balk at.
Leach has had an outstanding career and his brutal running style is the standard to which all fullbacks should measure themselves. Unfortunately, the Titans’ offense just uses a fullback too infrequently to make him a viable option. If Tennessee invested the money he will likely seek, it would put them in a tough position to get everything else done that they want in free agency. The risk just outweighs the reward at this point in his career, and while the Titans need to add some new personnel to the offensive backfield, it shouldn’t and likely won’t come from Leach.