Analysis: Do the Titans have a free-agency plan?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 1:30am
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Fisher and Reinfeldt

When the off-season began, Coach Jeff Fisher said one of the team’s main priorities was to fix a defense that tumbled to 28th overall in the NFL rankings, allowing more than 365 yards per game in 2009. Exactly how the Titans plan to fix that through the first handful of days in free agency remains a mystery.

On the first day of free agency, Fisher was out of the state and general manager Mike Reinfeldt was at a speaking engagement at a local high school. So, it’s safe to say the Titans were taking the slow and deliberate approach to free agency once again, something that has become a trend most years with the franchise.

The last time the Titans were busy during the early part of the free agency game was in 2006 when a young roster that had too many holes had to be supplemented by veterans from the outside. It netted them players like David Thornton, Kevin Mawae, Chris Hope and David Givens. The Titans hit on three of those four players — a career-ending injury to Givens preventing him from making much of a contribution.

But this time around, Tennessee looks skittish about using the free agent market as a tool to replenish the roster, especially a defense that has at least three holes to fill.

What's puzzling

If the Titans believed that Kyle Vanden Bosch’s and Keith Bulluck’s best days were behind them and they weren’t worth investing another two or three seasons in, so be it. I won’t fault them there, if that’s their assessment. But the puzzling part is the Tennessee’s curious approach to replacing them, which thus far has been to wait and watch the biggest names on the market land elsewhere.

Now the first visitors to Baptist Sports Park as potential replacements are defensive end Jason Babin, who visited on Monday, and linebacker Will Witherspoon, who arrives Tuesday. Both are 29-year-old journeymen, who, judging strictly by statistics alone, would not appear to be an upgrade over the status quo of Vanden Bosch and Bulluck.

No one is saying Reinfeldt should suddenly become Daniel Snyder and turn the Titans into an expensive free agent train wreck, but this is a team that needs to take a more serious look at free agency as a means of upgrading the roster.

The Titans don’t have to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, but sometimes it would be nice to see them go someplace besides K-mart.

Sometimes, bargain shopping works. It netted them Vanden Bosch in ’05, who blossomed into a star. And Jake Scott adequately replaced Jacob Bell for less money. But other times, it’s much more difficult, as happened last year when Jovan Haye had the misfortune of coming in just after Albert Haynesworth’s departure.

No impact

Adding just one impact player of the caliber of defensive ends Julius Peppers or Aaron Kampman or linebacker Karlos Dansby would have filled a major hole with a capable veteran and meant one less area the Titans would have to address in the draft. And as much as the draft is the main tool for franchise stability, you can be sure the Titans won’t find all the answers there — at least not immediately. For one, Tennessee will be picking in the middle of each round, and currently has no second-round pick, thanks to last year’s trade to draft tight end Jared Cook.

Given that scenario and barring some sort of trade, the Titans realistically can expect to find only one player in the draft that has the potential to come in, start and make an immediate positive impact — the player they choose with the 16th pick. That’s it. Any draft pick contributing immediately beyond that would be a combination of excellent scouting, solid coaching and sheer good fortune.

Yes, players like Cortland Finnegan and Bo Scaife have made an early impact from the late rounds. But for every Finnegan, how many middle and late-rounders like Tony Beckham, Shad Meier and Rob Reynolds contributed little outside of special teams?

Just last year, the Titans were burned badly when Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty had to play before they were ready. That doesn’t mean it was a mistake to draft them, just a mistake not to have a better option available until they were ready.

And there is another more critical issue at play in relying solely on the draft to try and solve their needs. Drafting for need over the best player available is a risky and often unrewarding proposition.

In 2004, the Titans had lost Jevon Kearse in free agency, and knew they would have to take defensive line help in the draft to replace him. So, they spent second-round picks on Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom and a fourth-rounder on Bo Schobel. All three were forced into the lineup immediately, and the results were predictable: Schobel washed out, and Odom and LaBoy were beset by injuries and inconsistency, only finding their stride in the last year of their respective deals before heading out the free agency door themselves.

Contrast that with what the Titans did two years ago when they drafted not for need, but the best player on their board. In 2008, the draft prognosticators were stunned when Tennessee bypassed receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas to select a little-known running back named Chris Johnson out of East Carolina.

To date, Kelly and Thomas have made no impact in their pro careers. Johnson, he’s merely the most dynamic player in the NFL, having rushed for 2,006 yards and earning Offensive Player of the Year honors.

With their tepid approach in using free agency to address needs thus far, would the Titans even have the luxury of taking a Johnson-type difference-maker at No. 16 over a lesser player just to fill a hole in a need position?

 

40 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 5:24

I think they are waiting to get TitansFan035 and Wayne's opinion. I heard they are waiting to check out their credentials against their own.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 6:03

Results are in. Wayne and 035's posts have been traced to an insane asylum in Indianapolis, Indiana.

By: BigPapa on 3/9/10 at 7:53

The titans have a plan, it's called keeping the money in their pocket and taking advantage of the good nature of the fans in TN.
They know they are the only game in town (c'mon the preds and vandy? pllleeease) and there is really no pressure from the fans to win and win big. They can make a token effort and if they do well, great if not? We'll the seats are already sold and there's a waiting list for PSLs.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 8:37

Oh yeah, I forgot about BP! LOL!

By: BigPapa on 3/9/10 at 9:06

What evidence do we (or you) have that makes you think that this team is getting better than they were last year?

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 9:07

The Titans will use the same Free Agency Plan that they have used every year since they have arrived in Nashville, tell the fans that the team will be a MAJOR PLAYER IN FREE AGENCY this year but when free agency starts, let every other team in the NFL sign the TOP FREE AGENTS, including your own, and then wait a week to sign a couple of MARGINAL PLAYERS that may make a contribution sometime in the next season or so. And also sign a WR that will suffer a CAREER ENDING INJURY in his first year and have him sue you for the remander of his contract a year or so later.

By: wayneCaluger on 3/9/10 at 9:29

Results are in. TITAN1posts have been traced to an insane asylum in Houston Texas and has been indentified as Bud Adams Jr.

Its Déjà vu 1993 when out of spite Bud dismantled 12-4 team that failed to win the AFC championship sending Warren Moon packing along with other good and fan favorite players. 1994 the team went 2-14, about what expect for 2010 based tossing seasoned team and community players like Bosch and appears Bulluck to the with no plan to even maintain status quo at those positions.

You cannot count on the draft alone. The Saints had the top first 1-5 first round picks for years. It wasn't until they made some good trades and free-agency did they turn it around and we start this year at 16.

Got to be spite and hording money for 2011 since what is going on at the Titans funny farm is not even a bad plan.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 9:58

jw, when did the Titans EVER say they would be a major player in free agency. It still amazes me how armchair quarterbacks think they know more than the Titans coaching staff. LOL!

By: TitansFan035 on 3/9/10 at 10:19

Titans plan for this season 500 or worst under a mediocre coach! Keep L.P field full of people that goes to see a mediocre team because there is nothing else to do on sundays, while Bud Adams keep filling his pockets with money! Al Davis is not crazy he wants to win!

By: TitansFan035 on 3/9/10 at 10:22

I think Titan1,may be Coach 500 in disguised.Because somehow he always agree with what the cheap aarrse bottom feeding organization wants to do which is nothing!

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 10:23

The last three off season (2007, 2008, 2009), when it was reported that the Titans had more money under the Salary Cap than any other NFL team ($27 million in 2007, $29 million in 2008 and $35 million in 2009), it was being reported that with all the money that the Titans had under the salary cap, that the TEAM would be a MAJOR PLAYER IN FREE AGENCY and that the TOP PLAYERS (Nate Clement, Ashanti Samuel, Adalius Thomas, et al) would flock to the Titans in order to be team mates with Vince Young. and several times this season, it had been reported by John McLain (a supposed insider and close personal friend with Bud Adams) and other media members that Bud Adams would open the bank vaults and SPEND what it takes to bring a Super Bowl winner to Nashville in an UNCAPPED YEAR. The Titans never issued a statement DISPUTING THESE STATEMENTS.

By: TitansFan035 on 3/9/10 at 10:25

Lets see Cortland Finnegan, thumps up he will be out in another year or so, why Bud too cheap to keep him. Michael Griffing i see him gone, why the organization is too cheap to keep him. Other than that the secondary we have is gargbage to the max! And that's what coach 500 think he can win..let me just say ha,ha,ha,ha coach 500 done lost his mind!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 10:31

BS, jw and you know it. The Titans NEVER said they would be major players in free agency. They can't control what the media says and they sure as heck do not have to defend themselves against them They, are always open minded about it. Living here and being a fan of another team, I can see why you would be jealous over their popularity. Get over it. LOL!
035 must be a closet colts fan.

By: MidTNTitansFan on 3/9/10 at 10:45

"The last three off season (2007, 2008, 2009), when it was reported that the Titans had more money under the Salary Cap than any other NFL team ($27 million in 2007, $29 million in 2008 and $35 million in 2009)"

I've never heard or read that. Do you have a link that you could share?

By the way the Titans had the 9th highest payroll in 2009 and the 7th highest in 2008 according to: http://content.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/salaries/totalpayroll.aspx?year=2009.

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 10:47

All this was coming from SO-CALLED NFL INSIDERS (John McLain, who is also a SO-CALLED PERSONAL FRIEND OF BUD ADAMS, JEFF FISHER and MIKE REINFELDT) and others so called insiders (Jim Wyatt, Terry McCormick, Hope Hines, et al). Floyd Reese even stated on 104.5 the Zone (when he was the GM and had a REGULAR APPEARANCE on Fiday afternoons before he left) that the TITANS would become MAJOR SPENDERS IN FREE AGENCY because of ALL THE MONEY THEY HAD UNDER THE CAP. So go ahead and BELIEVE EVERY WORD THAT OLD SOT AND COMFIRMED LIAR BUD ADAMS HAS TO SAY, JACK ASS!!!!

By: MidTNTitansFan on 3/9/10 at 10:56

Your're right. You are saying that Titans said they would spend money. I agree. They did spend money. That's how they got in the top ten of payroll in that last two years. I'm not saying that the USA Today's database is all-knowing, but that what it says.

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 11:06

Titan1, could you please explain to me how there is enough room for both you and MidTNTitansFan to KISS BUD ADAMS ARSE at the same time...LOL!!!

By: Cowboy84 on 3/9/10 at 11:11

I don't know of two many knowledgable fans who want the Titans to be the Redskins, but McCormick has a point what are they planning to do to fill the holes in all three areas? They need pass rushers, corners, a returners, linebackers. If we judge by last years' results those guys aren't on the roster. The Titans brain trust does not seem willing to talk to their own FAs about their future, guys this team does not need to lose because of the leadership they bring. Who is the leader on D now that KVB and probably KB are gone? Who takes care of the O-Line when Mawae leaves? I guess the brains at Baptist have this figured out.
We're not going to hear the detailed plan but it would be nice to hear more than the typical Fisher-speak of we have a plan, we are going to address our needs and we will put a good product on the field, we need guys who can make plays...etc

By: TitansFan035 on 3/9/10 at 11:33

That's all coach 500 do put a product on the field and be a 500 team! thanks for coming to the game and enjoy a 59-0 loss, after that loss coach 500 should have had the decency of packing his sh** and leave!!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 12:48

jw, your jealousy of the support of the Titans is getting old and boring. The THOUSANDS of REAL Titans fans appreciate Mr Adams relocating the team here. You are an example of a few disgruntled fans that live here and are fans of other teams and HATED it when we got our own team. For some reason following the home town team is not good enough for you. And that is fine, but where you go wrong is always cutting down the local team and their fans. Support your team, but stop your whining about the Titans. It gets more childish every time you do it.
TitansFan035, I have trouble understanding your language sometimes, whatever that may be, but if you really are that unhappy, find another team to follow. But then again, you never will be happy. Wayne, Wayne, Wayne! You want to try to come off like you know more than the Titans staff. Knock, knock, helloooo, anybody home? I know that you don't and the only reason I bother replying to you is so you will continue to make me laugh. I am one of thousands of Titans fans that love their team and are grateful we have a first class organization that puts a competitive team on the field most years. When we do win the Super Bowl it will just be icing on the cake. But, then there will be those few who would still whine if we did not repeat the next year. Those are the ones who enjoy being miserable.

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 1:27

When we do win the Super Bowl it will just be icing on the cake.

That won't happen is BUD ADAMS lifetime.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 1:32

You mean, you HOPE it doesn't.

By: wayneCaluger on 3/9/10 at 2:00

035: Coach 500 was a good name in that franchise 50 year history he has 5 of the 8 500 seasons. With the total desecration of the team it appears the 500 era is in the rear view mirror entering an era similar to those in '81-'86 (23-65) .

This season we don't have the 49ers, Bills, Rams, Seahawks and Cards (down year with Bolton and Warner gone) on our schedule replacing them with Dallas, Denver, Redskins, Eagles, KC and Raiders. True we don't have to face the Pats for another beating or the Jets, but at this point looking with what looks like a rag tag no team leadership patched up team the two possible outside our conference/division wins looks to be KC and Raiders. Of the six division games maybe a home win over the Texans and Jags, maybe!

I Don't think we can blame Fisher in total, he has to play the cards he is dealt and he is the only coach Bud has had that got he to the Super Bowl. Bum Philips never had a losing season (6-0-0) with a 2-3 post season record. Fired at the end 1980 season we he failed to make to the AFC Championship. 81-'86 (23-65).

87' to '93 the team went 7-3-0 under Glanville and Pardee both had last full year winning seasons. Once Glanville got Humpy's pieces back after the 0-6 drought he went 9-7 after 10-6 the year before. Pardee went 4-0 before Bud pulled the rug out from under him. In '92 Pardee went 10-6 and into the playoff's. Bud threatened to disband the team in '93 if they didn't go all the way. Pardee went 12-4 and didn't go all the way so Bud kicked Warren Moon and most of the team to the curb.

In pre PSL '94 and nobody paying to see a Moonless floundering team Bud kicked a 6-0 Pardee to the curb. The franchise has had winning coaches (Bum, Jerry G and Jack P combined 13-3-0 & 5-9 regular and post season records), so the only answer to Fishers with a 6-5-5 season & 5-5 post season record is he is the only coach Bud has had that made it to a Super Bowl and he takes the heat for Bud.

As for losing KVB, KB and KM not only is this a great team loss its a loss to the fans and community as a whole. Both KVB and KB gave back to the community with their time and money to help special needs and underprivileged youngsters. Even with his future in doubt KB handed out nine $1,000 scholarships in the memory of #9, Steve McNair. As for his part Bud gives the fans and taxpayers the shaft and continues to be the person you don't want your child to be.

By: BigPapa on 3/9/10 at 2:31

I think titan1 summed up his attitude towards football pretty well. He's just there screaming "go titans!" no matter what kind of effort the team makes at winning. I guess there is a place for that, but fans that actually understand the game want and expect more out of the front office.

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 2:34

You mean, you HOPE it doesn't.

NO, I MEAN IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AS LONG AS BUD ADAMS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS TEAM!!!! Hell, it may not even happen in your LIFETIME!!!

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 2:34

KEEP DRINKING BUD'S KOOL-ADE!!!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 2:51

I'll keep supporting my home team while the few of you drown in your pity pool.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 2:56

BP, I think being 54 years old and following the NFL since I was about 6 years old, I understand the game and know who the experts are and it is not the armchair quarterbacks. Now, they are saving your place in the pity pool.

By: wayneCaluger on 3/9/10 at 3:07

For the record minus 01 this family supported the new stadium, had PSL’s, listen and watched most games including listening on XM going to/from Florida and SC. My support lies with the players who have given their all returning the support, not the crook who owns the team.

Even tough folks in Houston warned me I gave P.T. Barnum the benefit of the doubt listening to his promises that went away once he got the taxpayers on the double hook with over a $100 million in bonds and PSL’s to guarantee to mayor Phil some revenue would come in no matter how much money he stuck in his own pocket.

He is screwing the loyal good and community minded players, fans and taxpayers stuffing the profits in his pocket knowing 2011 will most likely be another strike year (number 3) and the money strapped government and taxpayers will have to come up with additional tax money to pay on the bond in 2011. He is kicking good players looked up to by fans who also give back to the community.

Years ago televising old World Football League games we hired college students to herd fans together in order to get tight crowd shots. So here is a LP field career opportunity for you come 2012 should the NFL pick back up.

Shame on you minus 001 for condoning anyone who treats their employee’s/players like this man while lying to fans and supporters who has lined his pockets. Like P.T. Barnum said, a sucker is born every minute so wear Bud’s court jester crown proudly. At age 54 you have earned it and can join the old fools club. You can always tell an old fool, but you can't tell him much. Too bad you missed your chance to play in the Titanic Orchestra, but can't fault you for making up lost time.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 3:19

Wayne, you really are a pitiful and bitter individual. I hope you get the help you need so you can enjoy life instead of crying and whining all the time. I have been a PSL holder since day 1 and proud of it, just like thousands of others. Misery loves company and I see you have a few here who love you. LOL! You enjoy your pity pool while we enjoy our TITANS!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 3:23

Wayne, you just contradicted a previous post you made a while back. It will catch up to you when you continue to act a fool.

By: TitansFan035 on 3/9/10 at 3:28

TITAN1, MEN I GUESS YOU ARE SO DEEP IN TO THE BUD AND COACH 500 KOOL AID THAT YOU DON'T CARE CARE ABOUT WINNING! YOU ONLY WANT A PRODUCT TO PERFORM ON SUNDAYS AND FINISH 500!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 3:34

035, did you finish school?

By: Titansfan074 on 3/9/10 at 3:44

The Titans have no interest in winning a Super Bowl - regardless of what Bud Adams says. He fields a team that is competitive enoug hto fill the stands with the potential of reaching the playoffs and little else. Jef Fisher is the most overrated coach in the NFL today. 6 winning seasons in 16 years or a winning record 37.5% of the time and another 6 .500 seasons. Bud Adams runs the Titans like a business - as is his prerogative - with an emphasis on profit not wins. Reinfeldt has been so pitiful he has been shown to be incapable of even returning phone calls to existing players who have earned at least that courtesy. Free agency? Keep dreaming...the Titans looking at guys like Babin and Weatherspoon is hysterical. Those guys never had a prime.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 4:02

Those guys never had a prime? LOL!

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 4:04

Overrated coach? Yeah, that is why teams would line up to hire him and he could write his own check.

By: wayneCaluger on 3/9/10 at 4:57

Enjoy your pity pool while we enjoy our TITANS! Got a mouse in your pocket? From today's post it's 7-1 that Bud per the article title has "No free-agency plan? ". If you count the letter to the editor today it's 8-1. So far you are the only one that is defending Bud.

Unlike Jerry Jones who put his own money up to build the new Cowboy Reliance Stadium here it's the taxpayers, so we have a vested interest a $120 million vested interest. They say they are going to fix last years problems. OK maybe KVB, KB and the other 8-10 players up for bid or kicked to the curb was the problem. Where is the fix? last night the front office line on Babin was for "depth", so who is Babin backing up?

If Bud wants to pay off the bond plus a few million to boot hand the stadium deed over and let him do whatever he wants. The real whine is going to come when taxes are raised and/or services cut back, including government employee's losing their job to make the bond payment so the city want default or lower it's bond rating to the point the city cannot borrow a dime. As long as he is not getting into my pocket, putting public servants jobs at risk or compromising police, fire, schools and other services whatever he does is fine with me. I got Direct and the NFL package so if it become unbearable to watch like the Pat's game watch one that's interesting.

It must be pretty lonely swimming in Bud's cease pool of lies. Do you see the fixes or plans on how he intends to get back to the Super Bowl before he physically checks? I have owned businesses and written business plans and the only plan Bud seems to have is line his own pockets and stick the taxpayers.

By: TITAN1 on 3/9/10 at 6:11

Wayne, I really don't think you are stupid, just full of BS. Try polling the 69,000 at Titans games and you will find the majority of them feel the way I do. They don't care about posting on a small time MB. I stumbled on this site a few years ago and realized it is mostly a place for negative whiners. I like to interject some positive vibes. There are those here who are jealous of the Titans popularity, those who think they know more than the Titans staff and then there are the chronic whiners. Enjoy your pity pool. I'll enjoy my Titans! Now I'm off to where there are more positive people, not a bunch of jealous sour pusses!

By: jwk6179 on 3/9/10 at 6:37

They don't care about posting on a small time MB. I stumbled on this site a few years ago and realized it is mostly a place for negative whiners. I like to interject some positive vibes. There are those here who are jealous of the Titans popularity, those who think they know more than the Titans staff and then there are the chronic whiners. Enjoy your pity pool. I'll enjoy my Titans! Now I'm off to where there are more positive people, not a bunch of jealous sour pusses!

Then why do you continue to POST here. Not too long ago, when I posted something here you refered to the Nashville City Paper as the Titans message board and when it was pointed out to you that there was NOTHING in writing stating that only Titan fans could post here, you then called it the home town teams paper. Every time someone POINTS OUT FACTS TO YOU, you change part of your argument!!!!

By: Titansfan074 on 3/9/10 at 7:07

They can have him Titan1.