In a bit of unexpected good news, the Titans are reportedly re-signing linebacker Jayon Brown to a one-year deal worth $5.25-million according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
After reports that he — along with the majority of the Titans pending free agents — would be moving on to new teams this offseason, Brown reversed course and signed a very team-friendly deal that is roughly half of what most projections expected him to garner per year on the open market.
Brown is one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, ranking 5th in pass breakups among inside linebackers over the past three seasons with 22. He was tied for 3rd in that category in 2020 despite missing the final six games of the season with a broken elbow. Brown also ties for 13th among linebackers with three interceptions during that time frame.
With the Titans secondary in the midst of a total overhaul as Jon Robinson looks to fix a pass defense that ranked among the bottom five in the league last year, keeping Brown at a discount rate feels like a big win. His ability to matchup with tight ends and linebackers in coverage is useful, especially for a team that loves to play man.
Brown’s limitations are largely related to his size at 6-0 and 226 pounds, but that is an issue that is becoming less and less of a problem as the league continues to drift towards wide open passing attacks and away from bruising running games. All of the Titans inside linebackers struggled with run fits at times last season.
At his best, Brown is a big time playmaker. He’s a good blitzer, outstanding in coverage, and good enough in the run game that he’s not a liability. It looks like he’s betting on a return to health in 2021 before making another run at the free agent market next offseason.
How the rotation shakes out between Brown, Rashaan Evans, and David Long will be interesting. Long has played well in limited opportunities in his first two years in the league and could be ready for a bigger role, but does that come at the expense of Brown or Evans? That will be a storyline to watch as training camp gets rolling this summer, but for now it’s nice to see the 2017 5th round pick back in the fold for another season.