- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter
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No. 4 and No. 5 are from the AFC South.
Horton: “The Titans were 31st in the NFL in sacks in 2011, and the tape says that stat is no fluke. They desperately need an impact player to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Although spending big bucks in free agency usually isn't their style, this is a position that would be worth the money because guys like Williams are almost impossible to find. Tennessee seems to be going in the right direction, and Williams could flourish in their 4-3. However, they aren't a true title contender yet, so if Williams wound up here, it might be just about the money.
Kuharsky: Ruston Webster has said a special pass rusher is the one spot where it’s worth overpaying. The thing is he didn’t say “dramatically overpaying” or “overpaying by a ton” and I think that’s the level Williams is going to wind up at.
Horton: “The Texans [presumably can’t] afford to franchise Williams with a price tag over $22 million, so [he’ll be free] to test the market. We know that he has great skills, and he actually looked pretty comfortable transitioning to Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense as a pass-rusher (before he got hurt). However, the fact that the Texans got an unexpected level of production from OLBs Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin in 2011 may make it easier to part ways with such a great player. Williams knows that the Texans are very close to being a special team, one that he helped build. Could that lead to any type of a hometown discount?”
Kuharsky: It sounds great. But that the team didn’t back-load Arian Foster’s contract suggests it’s not trying to create all the room it can this year. And the Texans would be doing that if they were intending to fit Williams onto their roster.
Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. has surveyed the landscape. If Mario Williams reaches unrestricted free agency, Horton’s written about five good landing places .