Adam Schefter is reporting that former Miami Dolphins safety Walt Aikens has signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans.
Aikens is a 7-year veteran who has been a special teams ace throughout his career, most recently named a special teams captain by his teammates in Miami last September. He was drafted to the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick in 2014 and has spent his entire career with Miami.
The Titans allowed veteran special teamers Daren Bates and Wesley Woodyard to walk this offseason. Bates recently signed with the Texans, while Woodyard remains on the open market. Bates and Woodyard have been stalwarts for the special teams units in Tennessee. Last season, Bates was named a special teams captain while Woodyard was a captain every year in Tennessee (and in fact, every season of his career). The Titans signed Nick Dzubnar earlier this offseason, presumably to fill this special teams void.
Pro Football Focus (obligatory “grain of salt” disclaimer and all that) has Aikens with a special teams grade of 70.2 for 2019, 72 spots higher than Bates’ grade of 65.7 and 342 spots above Woodyard’s 59.0 special teams grade. Dzubnar had the highest 2019 grade of this group at 71.3.
Aikens certainly has a long road to make the final roster (as would any August free-agent signing not named Jadeveon Clowney), but his role should be clearly defined as a special teams contributor.
The Titans would have made a corresponding move to make room for Aikens on the roster. This post will be updated once that move is announced.