Tennessee Titans Pre-NFL Draft Free-Agency Grades
This certainly has been an interesting offseason for the Tennessee Titans.
Normally, there isn't a lot of money that is spent by the Titans front office in free agency. This year, they've decided to open up their wallet and find the missing pieces to the puzzle that is their roster.
Bud Adams has acknowledged that he's overspending for some of these players, but he wants to win and win now. Only time will tell whether or not this will come back to haunt them, but for now, check out my grades for the Titans' 11 free-agent signings.
George Wilson, Strong Safety (2 Years, $4M)
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WIlson was released by the Bills in February, and the Titans scooped him up a few weeks after.
Safety play was a huge issue for the Titans last season. Michael Griffin had another horrible season, and Jordan Babineaux, who was recently released, played poorly as well after a solid 2011 campaign and ended up losing his starting job.
Wilson benefited playing next to a very talented safety in Jairus Byrd, but he still is solid in his own right. He has very good field presence and is solid in coverage as well. He also is a sure tackler, something the Titans really missed last season. His veteran leadership also will be a huge attribute to this young defense.
However, Wilson is 32 years old, meaning he might be past his best years. Still, he has a lot of qualities in his game that the Titans lacked last season and should be a big contributor.
Andy Levitre, Guard (6 Years, $46.8M)
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The Titans definitely overpaid for Levitre, but considering Leroy Harris was awful and that Steve Hutchinson, who wasn't much better, retired, the Titans wanted to make sure they got their man.
It actually shocked me that the Bills didn't try whatever they could to keep him. He was one of the best guards in the league last season and will substantially help the running game and pass protection.
The best part about him is that he is 26 years old. Offensive linemen last a long time in the NFL, so expect Levitre to contribute to this team for a while.
Overall Grade: A
Delanie Walker, Tight End (4 Years, $17.5M)
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With Jared Cook gone, the Titans wanted to bring in another receiving tight end to play opposite Craig Stevens.
Walker spent much of his career in San Francisco as a utility player. He played fullback, wide receiver and even contributed as a special teamer, kick returner and tight end. While he isn't as much of a vertical threat as Cook was, he is a very physical player and a good blocker as well as a solid receiver.
Walker's biggest knock is his hands. He drops a good amount of passes that he shouldn't. Still, his versatility will be something the Titans can certainly benefit from.
Shonn Greene, Halfback (3 Years, $10M)
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This has been the Titans' most criticized signing this offseason, and for good reason.
Greene never was a reliable starting running back for the New York Jets, but, in short-yardage situations, he was pretty decent. Certainly better than what the Titans had in Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper.
Chris Johnson criticized this signing, but realistically, he needs to accept the fact that he can't be an every-down back. Greene should be a solid change-of-pace back for the Titans.
The issue with this signing is how much money it was; $10 million over three years is way too much for a backup running back.
Overall Grade: C
Sammie Lee Hill, Defensive Tackle (3 Years, $11.4M)
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The Titans wanted to beef up their interior defensive line. With the signing of the 6'4", 330-pound Hill, they certainly did that and then some.
Despite his weight, he actually is a very good pass-rusher, and the Titans need a guy like this. He definitely provides depth, but he could even push for a starting position now that Sen'Derrick Marks is gone.
The problem with this signing was the money, once again. I feel that he was signed for a little too much money for someone who is, for the most part, unproven, but he could turn out to be worth the gamble.
Overall Grade: B-
Ropati Pitoitua, Defensive Tackle/End
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The 6'8", 315-pound Samoan-blooded Pitoitua was a fan favorite in Kansas City, and many Chiefs fans were disappointed to see him go.
He's a solid, physical defensive end, but he won't exactly wow you outside of his size. Still, he's productive and certainly will find his way into the Titans' rotation at both tackle and end.
Overall Grade: C+
Rob Turner, Guard/Center
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The Titans' situation at center is pretty much a taboo right now. Eugene Amano is returning from injury, Fernando Velasco is returning but isn't guaranteed to be the starter at center again and there still is the possibility of drafting Jonathan Cooper.
Signing Rob Turner is more of a move to add depth and versatility at guard and center, but depending on the situation, he could find himself starting. He brings a veteran presence to the Titans, so even if he doesn't start, he could do well in a mentor role.
Overall Grade; B+
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Quarterback
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Many Titans fans (including myself) were disappointed to see them replace Matt Hasselbeck with Fitzpatrick, who really was unimpressive for much of his tenure in Buffalo.
However, Fitzpatrick comes cheaper, and is younger, than Hasselbeck, and he has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. All I'll say is that we all better just pray Jake Locker can stay healthy throughout the 2013-14 season.
Overall Grade: C-
Bernard Pollard, Strong Safety
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Known by many as the "Patriot Killer" due to his vicious tackles on Patriots players Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley, all of which resulted in serious injuries, Pollard was a huge signing for the Titans.
Over the years, the Titans have lacked a heavy hitter in the middle of the field, something that Pollard certainly is. While he has his struggles in coverage, he makes up for it with his physicality and sure tackling, something the Titans lacked much of last season.
Signing Pollard seemingly complicates things because of the previously mentioned George Wilson signing, but Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray likes to run a lot of packages where there will be three safeties on the field.
The Titans only signed him to a one-year deal, but it's hard to imagine them not bringing him back for a more long-term contract if he plays up to his potential.
Overall Grade: A
Kevin Walter, Wide Receiver
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At first, I wasn't a huge fan of this signing because the Titans are stacked at receiver, but other than Nate Washington, the Titans really have no veteran leadership at receiver. With young receivers like Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Damian Williams on the roster, the Titans need somebody who can mentor this young group.
That's where Kevin Walter could come into play.
Having played for the Texans for the better part of his 10-year career, Walter has been a thorn in the side of the Titans for years. He isn't going to wow anybody with his speed, but he outworks and out-hustles other receivers to make up for it and is a very good route-runner, something that the Titans have lacked.
Don't expect Walter to put up numbers like he did back in 2009, but he still could be a contributor in four-wide sets. He also has experience as a special teamer, so that also could be a spot where you she him contribute.
Overall Grade: B
Chris Spencer, Guard/Center
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Spencer was a reserve guard/center for the Chicago Bears last season but ended up playing 10 games, starting five of them. He isn't by any means a starting-caliber offensive lineman, but he's a good backup who adds depth to a pretty depleted Titans interior offensive line.
Overall Grade: C+