AFC South: 09 free agency
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Breakdown: The Titans' big 2008 regular season lined them up for a heavy dose of prime time. They play in the Thursday night season opener at Pittsburgh, host Indianapolis on a Sunday night, play at Houston on a Monday night and host San Diego on Christmas night.
Four out of the first six are on the road, with trips to Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, Jacksonville and New England before the bye. That Colts-Patriots back-to-back in the middle of October is a toughie. But the Titans have a chance to finish strong with four of their last six and three of their final four at LP Field. Three games in a row could be trouble for the turf at LP Field, which has had some problems late in the season in the past.
The Titans' opponents combined for a .508 winning percentage last year, meaning this ranks as the league's 14th-toughest schedule.
Complaint department: The season finale is at Seattle. A long trip back to Nashville late Sunday could make it feel like a short week if the Titans are heading home to get ready for a first-round playoff game. If they're heading home to pack up lockers it won't be fun either. If they're heading home for a bye, it'll be no big deal.
Wild-card category: The last two seasons have concluded with games at Indianapolis. In 2007, it was win and in for the Titans and had no meaning for the Colts. In 2008, it meant nothing to either team. So this year, the second meeting of the division rivals is at Indianapolis on Dec. 6. Tennessee will have to have made its bid for the crown in head-to-head matchups by then, as the Titans' final four games are outside the division.
Titans Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 10, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m. NBC
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, HOUSTON TEXANS, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at N.Y. Jets, 4:15 p.m., CBS
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 8:20 p.m., NBC
Week 6: Sunday Oct. 18, at New England Patriots, 4:15 p.m., CBS
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 18, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:15 p.m., CBS
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, BUFFALO BILLS, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 11: Monday, Nov. 23, at Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, MIAMI DOLPHINS, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 16: Friday, Dec. 25, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, 7:30 p.m., NFLN
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m., CBS
The Colts just announced they've re-signed outside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, who was an unrestricted free agent.
Indianapolis is expected to address linebacker in the draft, but is hardly as thin at the position as it was earlier in the offseason.
Hagler missed the start of last season as he recovered from pectoral surgery, but ended up playing in nine games with just three starts. In 2007, he played in 12, starting seven.
Faggins was more part of the problem than the solution in Houston last season, but the Titans play more zone and apparently think he can help. He currently ranks as the third outside cornerback on the team -- though safety Vincent Fuller works inside as the nickel back.
In the Texans locker room and with team brass, he was enormously popular and his personality should fit nicely with the Titans secondary, where three of four starters were in the Pro Bowl.
Contract details are unknown. But I suspect if Cary Williams and a draft pick or two outplay Faggins in the preseason, he might not be on the team on opening day.
The Titans signed veteran safety Brian Scott (now with the Bills) in 2007 as veteran depth and a special-team guy and he didn't wind up sticking.
We know what the compensatory picks are for the four teams of the AFC South in the upcoming draft.
But what have they meant in past drafts?
Using the great website drafthistory.com, I looked at all the picks the Colts, Jaguars, Texans and Titans have made after the 32nd pick in rounds three through seven since 2004.
The scorecard is unsurprising. The Colts, who've let a lot of players who made big contributions leave via free agency, have had 10 compensatory selections; the Titans have had eight; the Jaguars and Texans three each.
There are some significant names on the list of players acquired with those picks:
Jacksonville: Defensive end Bobby McCray.
Houston: Receiver David Anderson.
The NFL has announced compensatory draft selections, which are determined by a formula that weighs measures free-agent losses versus free-agent gains from last year and factors in performance.
The compensatory selections cannot be traded, but give teams more flexibility in trading their other picks.
The Titans tied with the Bengals with a league high four compensatory picks. The Jaguars got two, the Colts one and the Texans none.
Fourth round, 135th overall
Fifth round, 173rd
Sixth round, 206th
Seventh round, 242nd
Ten picks overall
Seventh round, 250th
Seventh round, 253rd
Nine picks overall
Fourth round, 136th
Eight picks overall
Eight picks overall
David in Jacksonville writes: The Jags should trade down if they can. This team has needs on both sides of the ball and lacks playmakers on the roster. It is going to take a few good drafts to fix this roster. What are the chances the Jags can trade down? Will it take a QB (Stafford or Sanchez) to fall and someone behind the Jags wanted to trade up into the top ten?
Paul Kuharsky: More picks would be better, sure, but if they don't hit better than it won't matter.
From the outside, I would suspect they are willing to sink or swim with David Garrard at least a year more -- with better protection and better targets -- before judging if they made a mistake there or not with the big contract. In conversations I've had with people inside their headquarters, they still believe in him. I've not heard from the inside how they feel about Sanchez or how they feel about the idea of taking a quarterback at No. 8.
With the holes they have, a trade down scenario or using the pick to address defensive tackle or receiver or offensive tackle seems most sensible to me. If they take a quarterback, then they cast doubt on Garrard and create a whole other storyline. That doesn't mean they won't, though.
Glenn in Cumberland, RI writes: 2 ideas. What are your reactions? Now that the Titans have lost out on Carr and Bush, do they go in a veteran direction like Dre Bly or Chris McCalister? Both might not like the demotion, but should still be pretty effective as a nickel corner. Also, what would you think about the Titans trying to trade LenDale to the Saints or Iggles who need a bigger back and then bring on Deuce as a guy to spell CJ. Deuce breaks down when asked to carry the ball 25 times, but what if he only had 10 touches a game? Could really have an impact. Thoughts? Glenn CBS '93 - Roar Lions Roar
Paul Kuharsky: I'm not sure the Titans want to go so old with the depth at corner. If they judge one of those guys to still be able to play effectively, are those guys going to come in and be content to rank as the fourth corner from the start? The Titans are not in the market for a nickel - Vincent Fuller has been quite good in that role and was re-signed.
LenDale White is in the final year of his initial contract, and doesn't have great trade value because of that and because his numbers were largely a product of the Titans' system. Tennessee need to think about who can replace him in 2010. I don't think they are looking to replace him this season.
Chris Kirk from parts unknown writes: I was wondering if you thought there was any chance the Colts would look at James Laurinaitis with their first round pick. I'm not sure d-tackle is as pressing of a need as many since I liked what I saw out of Antonio Johnson last year and on paper Daniel Muir adds even more bulk to the middle. It seems like the easiest way to bring toughness and physicality to the front seven is with a tough linebacker and Laurinaitis makes our defense tougher by just walking in the door. This is a guy who would've been a top ten pick if he'd come out last year and I'm surprised more teams aren't talking about him. Given the Colts recent history with drafting OSU guys(Gonzo, Pitcock, and Roy Hall) can you see the Colts going that direction again with Laurinaitis?
Paul Kuharsky: Not impossible, but if he's strictly an inside guy to them, that's not where they need the most help. I don't think it's a sure think they are looking defensive tackle in the first -- the top three are likely to be gone. They could have better options at receiver. But if the highest-rated player on their board isn't a DT or a receiver or a backer, they're not going to be afraid to take him wherever he plays. It's how they want to operate in the first couple rounds.
|The best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.|
Rob in Chattanooga writes: Paul, I was just wondering if you had given any more thought to the idea of the Titans possibly trading for Jay Cutler. I know they just locked up Collins for two more years. But with the ever-dwindling confidence in VY and Collins' age, isn't it worth taking a shot at Cutler? It seems like they could afford to offer a couple of draft picks, cash and maybe a player or two to get him. Your thoughts? Thanks!
Paul Kuharsky: I just don't see the Titans being a good trade partner for Denver. They don't have a quarterback the Broncos want.
Cap considerations and the Broncos actually wanting what the Titans could offer player-wise would make it difficult to put together the sort of deal you propose. And the Titans would create an awkward environment with two starters.
They are going to need another quarterback soon, but I don't think it lines up to be this one.
Brian Fullford in Jacksonville writes: Considering he went to Vanderbilt and with the aging Collins and bust in Young, why is Tennessee not more of a choice for the Cutler? I imagine Fisher would love his fire and wouldn't have a Cutler in the backfield be a bigger draw for FA wide receivers? On another note, I'm a bit shocked at some of my Jaguar brethren. The uproar at the Jones release has them clamoring for Gene's head. It is a sad affair when such mediocrity is missed. I don't believe for one second this pushes WR up the charts at the #8 pick but does it put more of an impetus on trading out? I like Oher but if he is hot\cold like some are saying then the Jags may have Raji, Monroe and Smith kids they would be willing to pay #8 money. What does your gut (or sources) tell you, Paul?
Paul Kuharsky: I certainly think the Titans would like to have Cutler as their quarterback for the long haul. You ask why Tennessee isn't more of a choice for him. He's not doing the choosing here. He's under contract to Denver, and Denver can choose to trade him wherever it likes or not to move him and deal with the consequences of the impasse.
Free agent wide receivers are not wary of Tennessee as so many people seem to suspect, at least not because they don't like the offense. When the Titans offer a big contract, people jump. Nate Washington got a pretty good deal considering his resume and he had plenty of interest from other teams. There was no headliner in this free agent class. David Givens, who had horrible luck suffering a horrible injury, had other good options and didn't hesitate to sign in Te
As for Matt Jones, I thought he turned into a nice possession guy last year. It's a lot easier to find one of those than a deep threat, which the Jaguars always seem to need.
I think B.J. Raji and Eugene Monroe will be gone by No. 8. If Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin fall there, I think they'd be hard to resist no matter the track record. Perhaps best-case is a quarterback there and the Jets or someone in love with him wanting to trade up. But Jacksonville's got to end up with an impact guy at the top of this draft.
William Guice from Spring Hill, TN writes: I was hoping for the NFL to at least discuss a new overtime method, but oh well. I have an idea for a new overtime model & would love your thoughts... How about field goal attempts/free kicks...like penalty kicks in soccer. The only people on the field are a kicker & his holder. Each team gets 3 attempts from the 40, then the 45 (if needed), then the 50 (if needed), then the -45 (if needed). Alternating turns. Flip a coin to pick end or who goes first. The one who has the best round of kicks at a yard line wins! Go no further back than the -45. It makes teams have kickers that can kick the long ball. Can you imagine the pressure of just a kicker & a holder on the field with a rocking or a silent stadium...waiting to see if that guy can make the kick. Anyway...just a crazy idea. Peace ~
Paul Kuharsky: My strong feeling is that a football game needs to be decided by football, not a gimmick. The college construct is gimmicky enough -- teams don't even naturally take possession of the ball at the opponents' 20. They certainly don't naturally ever have only a kicker and holder on the field with a game on the line.
I've got no problem with NFL overtime as it is. I'd have no major issue with a rule that the team that loses the toss gets to field a punt or a kickoff before the game becomes sudden. Anything more than that I am against.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Titans continue to look at veteran cornerbacks to add for depth. A day after Donald Strickland of the 49ers was in Nashville, the Titans are hosting veteran DeMarcus Faggins of the Texans, Jonathan Hutton reports.
While the Texans have great regard for Faggins, one of three players on the 2008 team that was an original member of the franchise in 2002, Houston is not attempting to re-sign him.
And in a year where coverage was an issue at times, a player affectionately known as "Petey" tended to be more of the problem than the solution. In his seventh season, he appeared in all 16 games, starting five.
Tennessee continues to consider players to help their depth, as beyond their starters and nickelback, they have no corners with experience.
I exchanged some e-mails with Jeremy Green of Scouts Inc. over the last two days and he helped me out with this line of thinking:
At one position of need I provided for each team in the AFC South, who's still out there as a free agent that would be a good fit?
Here's what he had to say on:
An outside linebacker for the Houston Texans
Derrick Brooks (Released, Tampa Bay) -- "Brooks was released in Tampa Bay due to his salary, not because he can't play anymore. The Texans are young on the defensive side of the ball because most of their star power on that side of the ball has come from recent draft classes. What does a team that has finished at 8-8 the past two seasons need to get over the top? How about a little veteran leadership from a guy like Brooks who has a Super Bowl ring and can still play. I think he would be an excellent fit for the Texans."
A linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts
Angelo Crowell (UFA Buffalo) -- "He possesses a nice combination of size and athletic ability. New head coach Jimmy Caldwell would like to make this defense a little bigger and of all the FA linebackers left on the market, Crowell has the size to make this defense more stout vs. the run."
Receivers for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Torry Holt (Released, St. Louis) -- "This is an easy call for the Jags and if they want to once again contend in the AFC South they need to be better at the wide receiver position. And even though Holt is no longer a true number one, he would be the one on their team. This team invested too much money at the quarterback with Garrard not to get him some help at the wide receiver spot, especially in light of them releasing WR Matt Jones."
D.J. Hackett (Released, Carolina) -- "He did not work out in Carolina after coming over as a FA from Seattle but he also was not healthy. Again with the release of wide receiver Matt Jones this team needs size on the outside and Hackett is still a young player with upside. His excellent size makes him a huge red zone threat and big target to move the chains on 3rd down."
Cornerbacks for the Tennessee Titans
Samari Rolle (Released, Baltimore) -- "When healthy he is still quick enough and athletic enough to match up in man to man situations on the outside. Though age is becoming a factor he is the most versatile corner left on the open market and his veteran presence is something the Titans are always looking for on the defensive side of the ball."
Like these? Hate them? I look forward to chiming into any conversation here in the comments or answering reactions you send to my mailbag.
- John McClain says the Texans will sink or swim with Matt Schaub and have no interest in trading for Jay Cutler.
- A look at Texans' records that could fall in 2009, from Alan Burge.
- Tony Dungy won't be doing anything for the union on a paid or staff basis, reports John Oehser.
- The Colts are the "leading choice" to be the Bill's opponent in Toronto this fall, reports Vic Carucci.
- The release of Matt Jones had to happen, according to Cole Pepper.
- End Paul Spicer signed with New Orleans, where he will be reunited with coordinator Gregg Williams and linemate Bobby McCray, says Vito Stellino.
- David Climer says the Titans ought to find a way to get Jay Cutler.
- Terry McCormick feels compelled to dismiss the idea of a trade bringing Cutler to Nashville.
- Receiver Justin McCareins could make a free-agent visit near the end of the week, says McCormick.
- A video interview with Jovan Haye, by Gary Estwick.
Earlier they signed defensive tackle Daniel Muir.
All were contributors to the 2008 Colts.
Davis was claimed off waivers by the Colts from Detroit prior to the 2008 regular season. He appeared in six games with the Colts last season, starting three of the final four games at middle linebacker, and totaling 26 tackles, 16 solo.
Federkeil joined the Colts as an undrafted free agent from the University of Calgary in 2006. Heading into his fourth season with Indianapolis, Federkeil has appeared in 22 career games, including three starts. Those all came last year at right guard. He also appeared as a reserve at right tackle and on special teams.
Ball was a practice-squader for much of last season, but was on the active roster and played in the Colts' regular-season finale -- a game with no playoff implications for either team -- against Tennessee, totaling 83 yards on 13 carries.
Defensive coordinator Frank Bush is laying the groundwork for a more aggressive unit, writes Megan Manfull.
Lance Zierlein's top 50 draft prospects.
Lucas Oil Stadium is in the running for a Sports Facility of the Year award.
Jim Caldwell talks tight ends in a continuing series with Colts.com.
Tony Dungy would be good in the liaison role the NFLPA is offering up, says John Oehser.
Matt Jones went from jailed to failed, writes Vito Stellino.
A firm that measures speech patterns believes it can forecast whether a player is destined for off-the-field troubles, reports Michael C. Wright.
A Jones timeline from the Times-Union.
Analysts don't see the Titans trading for Jay Cutler, report Gary Estwick and Bryan Mullen.
Green Bay matched the Titans' offer sheet to restricted free-agent cornerback Jarrett Bush, says Estwick.
Vince Young was part of the first day of the Titans' offseason program, reports Terry McCormick. Last year Young was working toward his degree at Texas. But I didn't think there was a question about him being there this time.
It's too bad Matt Jones couldn't get things in order. His recent jail stay for violating the terms of the deal he made to avoid the full consequences of a cocaine possession charge from last summer appears to have been the last straw for the Jaguars.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Jaguars have released Jones.
Even before this development, I expected the Jaguars to be interested in Torry Holt. Now I think they will be even more of a player for the veteran receiver, and they could compete with division rival Tennessee for Holt.
From what I've heard, the Titans did make inquiries about Holt before he was released by St. Louis, but no one has told me it turned into serious trade negotiations as mentioned in this report.
If Holt was reluctant to renegotiate his contract to facilitate that trade, it seems like he'd have to come to terms with the market being different than he hopes if he's to land with the Titans.
Aging receivers rarely decline gradually. Holt's been playing on a team that's struggled, which has been a factor in his numbers, of course. But his yards per catch have been on a steady decline: 14.6 in 2004, 13.0 in 2005, 12.8 in 2006 and 2007, 12.4 in 2008.
If he's healthy and affordable, he seems to me to be a veteran presence who can contribute and lead on a receiver-needy team like the Jaguars or Titans.
Reports say he's out of the country on vacation, so it could be a while before we start to hear about the interest level around the league and possible landing sites.
Expect Jacksonville and Tennessee to be among the first inquiries.
As for Jones' future, he was a steady possession guy -- excuse the pun, it's the correct football word -- who could be a good player on a team that has a big-play guy or two. The question is what team is willing to take him on with a new suspension under the personal conduct policy likely pending and knowing his propensity for off-the-field issues.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Marvin Harrison and Fred Taylor are on Alex Marvez's 'Dirtied Dozen' -- players who were let go or not re-signed after long and successful tenures with one team.
- John McClain's new mock draft has the Texans using the 15th pick on Clay Matthews.
- Alan Burge considers the Texans' likely options at No. 15.
- Free-agent linebacker Adam Seward is scheduled to visit the Colts Monday, according to a Boston Globe report found by John Oehser.
- Matt Jones was released from jail Saturday, a day earlier than scheduled, says The Florida Times-Union.
- Free-agent receiver Torry Holt isn't planning any quick decisions, says Terry McCormick.
Cornerback Jacques Reeves wasn't great, but he was better than a lot of fans thought, blogs John McClain.
Megan Manfull says the Texans are counting on a big Year 3 jump from Amobi Okoye.
Lance Zierlein ponders Andre Smith.
John Oehser says don't wait on the Colts to re-sign Marvin Harrison or Edgerrin James, if James gets out of Arizona.
Gene Frenette makes the case for the Jaguars to trade down in the first round.
Charges against free-agent receiver Reggie Williams have been dropped, reports Michael C. Wright.
The National Football Post says a trade that would have sent Torry Holt to the Titans fell apart. I expect Tennessee will show interest now that Holt's been release, but if he wouldn't restructure his contract for a trade, he's likely going to have to reassess his value if he's to land in Nashville.
Free-agent offensive tackle Trai Essex visited the Titans Friday, says Terry McCormick. The Titans need a backup tackle after losing Daniel Loper as a free agent to Detroit.
The loss is a blow to the Titans, who now have to find kick and punt returners.
Among the players they've looked at while Carr has been on a free agent tour is Justin Miller, a corner who is an experienced kick returner.