NFL DRAFT NEEDS: AFC SOUTH Texans | Colts | Jaguars OVERVIEW
Tennessee finished with an 8-8 record as Vince Young regained his starting spot and his confidence. The Titans were on a six game skid to start the season before Young took over and led the team on an 8-2 finish. However, the biggest story of the season was the play of second-year running back Chris Johnson. Johnson collected an astounding 2,509 yards in total offense on his way to winning the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award.
This offseason, the Titans will try and return the team to its 2008 form when they went 13-3 and claimed the top seed in the AFC heading into the playoffs. The focus will be rebuilding a defense that fell from ranking seventh two seasons ago to 28th in 2009. Tennessee will make nine selections in the draft. They lack a second round pick after trading it to the Patriots last April, but hold two picks in the third, sixth and seventh rounds. The Titans currently hold picks No. 16, 77, 97, 111, 148, 185, 207, 222 and 241.
At the head of Tennessee's priority list is finding a top-notch pass rusher. The loss of Albert Haynesworth hurt more than they expected, and getting more pressure up front would greatly increase the effectiveness of the rest of the unit. Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse left in free agency. William Hayes, Dave Ball, Jacob Ford and Eric Bakhtiari return from last season's roster, and Jason Babin was signed away from the Eagles. None of them are the impact player the Titans desperately need. Tennessee has done their homework this offseason having hosted several defensive ends on visits including Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan, South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul, Michigan's Brandon Graham and Texas' Sergio Kindle.
One level up, starting linebackers Keith Bulluck and David Thorton finished the season on injured reserve. Bulluck, a longtime defensive leader, was let go in free agency and Thornton's health is a major concern. Outside of Stephen Tulloch and Gerald McRath, there is little depth on the roster. One linebacker known to have met with the team is Alabama's Rolando McClain.
The secondary needs improvement after allowing the second-most passing yards per game in 2009. The pass rush was a large part of the problem, but the defensive backs still deserve some blame. A solid starting cornerback opposite Cortland Finnegan is needed. Rod Hood re-signed with the team, but isn't a capable starter. At safety, Michael Griffin took a step back while suffering from a shoulder injury and Chris Hope is aging. The team has met with cornerbacks Joe Haden of Florida and Patrick Robinson of Florida State, as well as safeties Earl Thomas of Tennessee and Major Wright of Florida.
On offense, the team has no pressing needs but could use some depth at wide receiver. Kenny Britt had a productive rookie season and looks like the No. 1 receiver the team thought they were getting when they selected him in the first-round last April. Nate Washington will likely start opposite Britt, but the team could look for a reliable No. 3 to work out of the slot. They've already met with two candidates in Texas' Jordan Shipley and Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (not re-signed), C Kevin Mawae (not re-signed), LB Keith Bulluck (not re-signed), TE Alge Crumpler (not re-signed), CB Nick Harper (was not re-signed), CB Rod Hood (re-signed), DE Jevon Kearse (was not re-signed), S Kevin Kaesviharn (was not re-signed), LS Ken Amato (re-signed for two-years), G Eugene Amano (re-signed for five-years at $26.25M), P Craig Hentrich (retired), S Donnie Nickey (re-signed for one-year)
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Dave Ball (received second-round tender at $1.809M and signed), DT Tony Brown (received first-round tender at $2.621M), TE Bo Scaife (received first-round tender at $4.9M and signed), LB Stephen Tulloch (received first-round tender at $2.521M), DT Kevin Vickerson (received second-round tender at $1.809M and signed), RB LenDale White (received second-round tender at $1.809M and signed)
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: LB Colin Allred (re-signed), T Mike Otto (re-signed)
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: CB Rod Hood, LS Ken Amato, G Eugene Amano, S Donnie Nickey, DE Dave Ball, TE Bo Scaife, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White, LB Colin Allred, T Mike Otto
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Pago Togafau (signed for one-year at $470,000), K Ricky Schmitt, DE Jason Babin (restricted free agent, Eagles declined to match offer sheet), CB Tye Hill (signed for one-year), QB Chris Simms (signed for one-year)
PLAYERS LOST: P Craig Hentrich (retired), DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (signed with Detroit), C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn
DEFENSIVE END -- The Titans parted ways with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse in free agency. Jason Babin was signed from the Eagles, but he isn't a quality replacement. The number one offseason priority is finding a defensive end that can get to the quarterback. Getting more pressure up front would also improve the back seven.
CORNERBACK -- Cortland Finnegan is the only legitimate starting cornerback on the roster. The team needs to find a quality player to start opposite him to improve one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
LINEBACKER -- Longtime defensive leader Keith Bulluck is gone and David Thorton has injury concerns. Stephen Tulloch is the starter in the middle and Gerald McRath looks like he will start at one of the outside spots, but there is little depth behind those two.
WIDE RECEIVER -- Kenny Britt is living up to the hype so far and could become the team's No. 1 option in his sophomore season. Nate Washington is a solid starter opposite him, but question marks remain behind them. The Titans need to find a quality No. 3 receiver to work out of the slot. Luckily, there is an abundance of potential slot receivers in this draft.
SAFETY -- Michael Griffin took a step back last season, partially due to a nagging shoulder injury. Chris Hope is a solid starter but he isn't young anymore. Safety isn't a pressing need, but some young depth would be a nice addition.