Tennessee Titans: Karlos Dansby

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Soon we'll come to have a better sense of just whom the Tennessee Titans are interested in as free agents, and the degree of that interest.

But of the four guys they've reportedly expressed interest in during the open, pre-free-agency period, I am struck by something about two of them.

Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith and Denver end/outside linebacker Shaun Phillips are each 32.

D'Qwell Jackson, an free agent the Titans had in early for a visit, is 30. (He signed with Indianapolis.)

Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has a history with Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, is also 32.

Free agency is a young man's game, and generally you want the targets you spend money on to be coming off their initial contract and heading into their prime.

But there is a place for the right 32-year-old on a team changing schemes and needing leadership.

The Titans aren't going to sign Smith, Phillips or Dansby. But one of them would be very good for a defense that needs an infusion of added leadership, experience and production for a front being revamped.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Over the last week or so, I've looked at nine guys who will become free agents Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET barring last-minute deals with their current teams.

The original list was 10, but Cleveland safety T.J. Ward dropped off then the Titans signed Bernard Pollard.

Here are links to each file, in roughly the order I'd stack them now.
I also looked at two guys who quickly disappeared from the potential market: Pittsburgh outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who signed a transition tag, and Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who got the franchise tag.

Orakpo would have been my top choice for the Titans, but they can't and won't chase him when he'd cost two first-round picks as compensation.

The Titans could have feelers out to 15 or 20 guys. We have seen four reported so far: Houston's Smith, Baltimore end Arthur Jones, Baltimore inside linebacker Jameel McClain and Denver end/linebacker Shaun Phillips.
The March 11th start of NFL free agency is almost upon us.

So this week we’re looking at free agents I think should get a look from the Titans.

Previously, we considered Pittsburgh outside linebacker Jason Worilds and Brian Orakpo, and both of them got tagged and won't likely get offer sheets from the Titans.

We've also looked at Oakland end Lamarr Houston and Jets offensive tackle Austin Howard.

Karlos Dansby, ILB, Arizona

Age: 32

Drafted: Second-round pick by Arizona out of Auburn in 2004.

Career: Ten seasons with Cardinals, Dolphins.

2013: Second Team All-Pro. Sixteen starts, 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 19 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

From ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss: "Dansby turned a lot of heads in 2013 and impressed in the process because he trimmed down and played like a man five years younger than his 32 years. Dansby wasn't limited to just the second layer on defense. He helped the Cardinals' top-ranked defense stuff the run and dropped back in coverage, intercepting four passes while returning two of them for touchdowns.

"While his anticipation, pass coverage and quickness improved last year, his speed was still a question mark. Dansby was exposed throughout the season when he was paired up with a faster tight end or receiver. But improving his speed has been Dansby's top focus this offseason.

"His biggest asset to a team may be in the locker room. Coming up on his 11th season, Dansby re-established himself as a leader in the Cards' locker room in 2013 despite being gone for a while and only having a handful of the same teammates.

"Because of his big season in 2013, Dansby believes he's worth more than the $2.25 million the Cardinals paid him in 2013. But what Dansby believes his worth may be may not be what other teams perceive it as. If Dansby gets the type of offer he wants, which is nearing $10 million, he'll take it. Otherwise, he may just take a lesser deal to stay in Arizona."

From ESPN.com’s resident scout Matt Williamson: "Dansby is an every-down veteran linebacker that has experience in a 4-3 and a 3-4. He is up in age, but it coming off an outstanding season in Arizona."

PFF says: No. 1 LB.

My rationale: Played for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona and can be a major flag-bearer for the new coaching regime on defense. The Titans need a better inside linebacking presence and a guy rooted in 3-4 concepts.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With D'Qwell Jackson's visit to the Tennessee Titans on Friday will come all sort of speculation.

So I take the occasion to urge us all to emphasize the word at the heart of what’s going on: visiting.

Jackson is presumably chatting with coach Ken Whisenhunt, with defensive coordinator Ray Horton, and with linebacker coach Lou Spanos. They will talk scheme and role and expectations. Perhaps they will watch some film as the Titans sell their situation.

Presumably Jackson will take a physical.

Perhaps as it wraps up, Ruston Webster or contract guru Vin Marino will talk contract parameters with Brian Mackler, Jackson’s agent.

I don’t think this is a scenario where the Titans, no matter how good they feel about Jackson, attempt to keep him from leaving town without signing.

Jackson is to visit the Broncos on Sunday, and is also reportedly fielding interest from Arizona. The Cardinals could be prepping to lose Karlos Dansby as a free agent, and Dansby is a player Whisenhunt knows well from time together in Arizona.

The Titans might love Jackson, who at 30 is two years younger than Dansby.

They might love Dansby more.

Maybe the Titans will wind up with Jackson. Maybe they’ll wind up with Dansby and create an opportunity for Jackson in Arizona. Maybe he’ll wind up with the Broncos. Maybe the Titans won't end up with either.

Maybe something happens fast for Jackson.

I suspect it’ll take a bit of time.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- D'Qwell Jackson, the linebacker released by the Cleveland Browns, is likely to be a guy the Tennessee Titans look at closely.

Tennessee defensive coordinator Ray Horton coached Jackson in 2013.

“D’Qwell has been a coach’s dream as far as leadership, intelligence,'' Horton said last season per this article from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "He demands a lot from himself and his teammates. He really is a locker room coach [with] some of the things he says after the game and at halftime.”

The Titans could use that in the middle of a defense that needs more leaders. Strong safety Bernard Pollard, who could be leaving as a free agent, was the singular leader of the 2013 defense.

I talked to one executive who couldn’t predict what sort of deal Jackson might command because he believes everyone is waiting to see what the market will offer when free agency opens March 11. That executive said while Jackson has been productive in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, he’s probably better in a 4-3.

The numbers from Pro Football Focus suggest it’s more than a bit better.

ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, is a bit skeptical of Jackson.

“He’s highly productive when he’s right [physically], but I also have always seen that as a bit of an aberration, as he is often making plays downfield, rather than 'impact tackles,' Williamson said. “He has experience in both schemes, but never was a great take-on linebacker and need protection, which I would think Jurrell Casey and company could do rather well. He’s an every down LB, but his name value is greater than what he truly is in my opinion.”

Williamson said another player connected to Horton, Arizona free-agent-to-be Karlos Dansby is a superior option: “Dansby had a much better year than Jackson in all areas and is more versatile ... would clearly prefer Dansby.”

Odds are Jackson fares well on the open market, though as indicated in Cabot’s piece, just two months ago he never imagined he would be moving on from Cleveland.

Horton will certainly have a strong voice in how seriously the Titans look into Jackson.

RTC: The holdup with Ray Horton

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

While some contractual issues need to be sorted out, the Titans plan to hire Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

To which I say: I’ve heard nothing but good things about Horton, and I think he’ll bring the Titans more swagger than they added last year after a drought in that department.

Mike Mularkey will coach the Titans’ tight ends, says Wyatt.

Wyatt suggests five personnel moves for the Titans heading into 2014, including drafting a second-tier quarterback and cutting Chris Johnson.

To which I say: Sign me up for this entire plan.

Whisenhunt is bringing in a lot more experience on his coaching staff than Mike Munchak did, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

Five free agents the Titans should chase, and the coach who should be pounding the table for him, from Will Lomas of Music City Miracles.

To which I say: Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby is going to be a guy we talk a lot about between now and the start of free agency.