By John Glennon
As he scans the free-agent market in search of help for his team’s woeful pass rush, Titans general manager Jon Robinson will have to consider many things – like productivity, payroll and scheme fit.
But if he was interested in one of at least three pending unrestricted free agents at the edge position, there’s another question that would need answering: Were the players’ big statistical jumps in 2020 representative of a break-through season or evidence of one-year wonder syndrome? In other words, was it merely a coincidence these three players – Arizona’s Haason Reddick, Detroit’s Romeo Okwara and New Orleans’ Trey Hendrickson – put up career-best numbers in the final season of their contracts or not?
Those players aren’t likely to command monstrous salaries on the market, the kind that more experienced edge rushers/outside linebackers like Shaq Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon are likely to haul in.
So a successful free-agent gamble on a player who hasn’t put up a string of productive years might also turn into a money-saver. On the other hand, if an unproven player returns to lesser numbers after signing a good-sized contract, the organization is left holding the bag.
Take a look at these three examples and see if you think their big 2020 numbers should merit interest from the Titans or not:
Player: Haason Reddick
Current team: Arizona
Position: Edge rusher
Height, weight: 6-1, 235
Yrs. in league: 4
One-year wonder stats: After producing a combined 7.5 sacks in the first three seasons (48 games) of his career, Reddick piled up 12.5 sacks in 16 games during the 2020 season — tied for fourth-best in the NFL. He added 15 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits and six forced fumbles.
Why it happened: Arizona returned Reddick to the position he played in college at Temple – outside linebacker – after playing him at inside linebacker for his first three seasons. The results were stunning.