Have Titans gained more than they lost following a frantic start to free agency?

By John Glennon

Talk about a Monday makeover.

Up until the early hours of this workweek, the overriding question for the Titans looking ahead was the same as it had been for two seasons: Would this team ever field a defense that could complement its high-scoring offense? More specifically, would the Titans ever find a way to pressure the opposing passer, lessening the need to score 30-plus points each and every week?

How quickly those storylines changed.

In the span of a few hours, the Titans took two significant steps toward bettering their abysmal pass rush, adding defensive lineman Denico Autry and edge rusher Bud Dupree, who combined for 15.5 sacks in 25 games last season.

But at what cost, literally and figuratively?

The Titans’ defensive gains came amidst two sizable gut-punches to the offense, as tight end Jonnu Smith (eight touchdown catches last season) and Corey Davis (65 catches, 984 yards, five TDs) took their talents to New England and the New York Jets, respectively.

So the biggest questions in my mind now are these: Do the desperately needed defensive additions move the Titans that much closer to the AFC’s elite? Or do the significant subtractions leave too much of a hole in this high-octane offense, one that fueled the Titans’ back-to-back playoff appearances?

Let’s take a closer look at where things stand now, starting with the outgoing and ending with the incoming.

Belichick bomb

The first news bomb dropped about 60 minutes into the NFL’s free-agency period, when national reports revealed Smith had signed a whopping four-year, $50 million deal with the Patriots, an average of $12.5 million per season.

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    1. Thanks, Ed …. Certainly a good argument to be made there. Titans were desperate for help defensively, just no way that group could have won a championship. And Titans did manage to keep the “Big Three” of Tannehill, Henry, Brown intact on offense.

  1. Agree with Ed Henry’s comment. 

    My concern with the loss of both Smith and Davis is continuality with Tannehill and within the offense. Would have loved to have them back, but both are “replaceable” based on the Titans offense. Smith’s contributions got downplayed because of his receiving stats, but use him like a Kelce, Kittle or prime Gronk and those type of numbers could easily follow. The threat of AJ ($20 mil per + contract in a couple of years) plus Henry/Tannehill and play action should allow most WR2’s to post 750-yard, 2-5 TD, type seasons, so the Titans can potentially get similar production for considerably less than Davis’ contract. 

    Dig the focus on guys that can get to the quarterback. Hope Dupree is the difference maker that this team desperately needs. 

    1. Will be interesting to see what Dupree brings this year. Certainly talented, good work ethic, good numbers past few years. But he’ll have to show he can A) bounce back from the ACL to impact the 2021 season at some point and B) prove he can still get to the QB without the kind of talent/scheme he had around him last year.

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