The Tennessee Titans took a step toward filling their need for a kick returner by agreeing to terms with free wide receiver Mark Jones on Wednesday.
Jones most recently was with the Carolina Panthers, where he had two receptions, but averaged 24 yards per kickoff return and 11.4 yards per punt return.
He set career-highs with a 59-yard kickoff return and a 55-yard punt return. Twenty-seven of his 40 kickoff returns were for more than 20 yards. For his career he has averaged 24.2 yards on 58 kickoff returns and 9.4 yards on 156 punt returns.
The Titans had a need at the returner position primarily because of the departure of Chris Carr as a free agent to the Baltimore Ravens over the weekend. Carr helped the Titans lead the league in kickoff returns in 2008.
Jones, a former University of Tennessee player, was a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004, has also spent time with the New York Giants.
The Titans have Rafael Little on the roster as well, who had experience as a return man while at the University of Kentucky. But Little missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury, and the Titans wanted at least one return man with NFL experience on hand as well as the unproven Little.
Also, Carr’s departure magnified the Titans need for depth in the secondary, as they are down to just last year’s seventh-round pick Cary Williams behind starters Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper.
Earlier this off-season, Eric King signed with the Detroit Lions, and veteran free agents Reynaldo Hill and Tyrone Poole are not expected to return to Tennessee.
For that reason, the Titans hosted free agent cornerback Donald Strickland on Wednesday.
Strickland has spent the past three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, and was previously with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles in his seven-year NFL career.
According to a league source, the Titans could have some competition for Strickland, as the 49ers remain interested in him, as do the Denver Broncos.