NASHVILLE – It seems safe to assume that things can’t go as badly for the Tennessee Titans, in terms of free agent additions as they did a year ago.
Two of them, edge rusher Vic Beasley and cornerback Johnathan Joseph, were released mid-season when their play fell short of expectations. Another, Jadeveon Clowney, failed to register a sack in eight games before knee surgery ended his campaign. Guys like defensive lineman Jack Crawford and running back D’Onta Foreman contributed to some extent, but not enough to make up for the failures of the big under guys.
That being said, things aren’t off to a good start as one of this year’s additions, cornerback Kevin Johnson, decided to retire just over two months after accepting a contract from a $ 2.25 million year with Tennessee.
It’s the offseason, however. Now is the time for optimism.
With that in mind, we take a look at this year’s notable free agent additions and imagine the best case scenario – within reason – for each.
Bud Dupree, OLB (five years, $ 82.5 million): Recovering from reconstructive knee surgery isn’t as daunting as it used to be, but it still seems a bit difficult to expect Dupree to be the same player he was during his six seasons at Pittsburgh ( at least this year). The ideal scenario is that he doesn’t need a follow-up procedure that would cause him to miss about three weeks and, as a result, plays all 17 games. He has only had double-digit Limoges once in his career. So it’s unrealistic to expect him to be in the 12-15 range, but if he can get eight on a reconstructed knee and open things up for Harold Landry to set a career high (his best is new in 2019), it would be a great start for a player who is going to be around for a while.
Denico Autry, DL (three years, $ 21.5 million): He’s a guy who’s typically played 55-65% of his team’s defensive snaps. That’s a good range for him to target in 2021, provided his much-discussed versatility is fully on display and he lines up – and is effective – in several places along the defensive front. This would allow the defense to challenge opponents’ blocking plans, create more one-on-one showdowns for Jeffery Simmons, and provide an extra dose of athleticism up front that has been lacking in recent years. The sacks will be nice, but the best thing would be for him to lead the team in tackles for the loss.
Janoris Jenkins, CB (two years, $ 15 million): As important as the statistics it presents will be the attitude it instills in high school. It’s a unit that needs to be a lot more aggressive than it was in 2020, and in nine seasons in the NFL, Jenkins has been unerringly aggressive. He doesn’t have to lead the team in interceptions (safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker can handle that) but he does have to outsmart all of his teammates in breakouts and have multiple interceptions and fumble recoveries, including at least one it comes back for a landing. He’s been doing this stuff throughout his career, so it doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Kendall Lamm, T (two years, $ 6.8 million): His resume is comparable to Dennis Kelly’s in that he’s a guy who has been a replacement for most of his six-year career, but a replacement who has played a lot. He’s not a long-term answer for the offensive line, but he’s tall and athletic. Nothing would be better than for him to step in and play all 17 straight tackle games like Kelly did last year. This would allow second-round pick Dillon Radunz to adjust to the NFL and put himself in a position to settle in from his second seasons, as franchise officials expected the first-round pick. 2020 Isaiah Wilson does. Of course, Lamm will have to be particularly effective as a run blocker because that’s what offense demands.
Josh Reynolds, WR (one year, $ 1.75 million): Things have changed dramatically for Reynolds with the exchange for Julio Jones. When he signed, he was a candidate for a breakout year that might make him a 1,000-yard receiver. Now, if he ends up with 70 or more receptions and something in the neighborhood of 1,000 yards, that means something has really gone wrong with Jones and / or AJ Brown. The best thing for Reynolds is to get closer to the numbers he accumulated last season, his fourth with the Los Angeles Rams (52 receptions, 618 yards). If he does, he’ll easily surpass anything Adam Humphries has done in his two years with the Titans and even help make up for the departure of tight end Jonnu Smith as a free agent.