Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Titans aim to repeat last offseason success
The Tennessee Titans took a bigger step back toward contention than nearly anyone would have expected last year after Jon Robinson became the general manager and Mike Mularkey was retained as head coach.
The Titans tripled their win total, going from 3-13 in 2015 to 9-7 and just missing the playoffs in 2016.
That said, there is still work left to be done to try and upgrade soft spots on the roster, which is what Robinson and the scouts and coaches are preparing for in this offseason.
"It's an important part of team-building, evaluating the prospects in this draft class," Robinson said. "I'm just excited to continue to lay down the foundation that we started last year."
While the Titans will evaluate the prospects in the draft, they also will take a long look at free agency, having approximately $61 million to spend under the salary cap.
The Titans have issues in the secondary, where only Kevin Byard and perhaps LeShaun Sims, both rookies last year, would appear to have secure roles for next season.
Beyond that, there are other areas that still could use some shoring up or just added depth. In addition to the secondary, the Titans need more depth at linebacker.
On offense, there is help needed still at receiver, as the Titans have transformed their thinking there, now choosing precise route-runners with reliable hands (Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe) over talented players with lots of upside but spotty production (Justin Hunter, Dorial Green-Beckham).
If Robinson addresses those needs as he did last year, he will use any means necessary to get results. Last year, Robinson tackled need areas like the offensive line, wide receiver, running back and safety by adding both veterans and rookies in each area. The premise seemed to be having veterans provide leadership and mentoring while the rookies got up to speed in order to contribute.
The strategy proved to be brilliant, as rookies and veterans both played key roles in all those areas. For instance, at running back, Robinson traded for DeMarco Murray and then drafted Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry to serve as the back half of the Titans' one-two punch.
The same thing happened at receiver with Matthews and Sharpe, on the offensive line with free agent acquisition Ben Jones at center and rookie Jack Conklin at right tackle, and at safety with Rashad Johnson and third-round draft choice Byard.
Robinson dealt last year's first overall pick to the Rams for a bounty that included Los Angeles' first-rounder this year. The Rams, no doubt, never thought that would end up being the No. 5 overall selection. That has Robinson, who also has his own pick at No. 18, ready to wheel and deal again to keep improving the Titans.
"It's got to be a two-way street," Robinson said. "We've got to have somebody that wants to move up to that spot, but like I said last year, we're open for business and willing to have discussions and just trying to put ourselves in position to improve the football team."