Tennessee Titans: Fact or Fiction on Latest Rumors Ahead of NFL Free Agency
Last offseason, the Titans were extremely active in free agency, but it unfortunately didn't produce any real improvements. It ended in the demise of the Mike Munchak era in Tennessee.
Here are the latest free-agency rumors surrounding the Titans. Are they just rumors, or are they real possibilities?
Chris Johnson Will Not Return to the Tennessee Titans
It may be a long time coming for many Titans fans, but it looks like Chris Johnson may finally be on his way out in free agency. It comes down to Johnson just not being worth the money he will be owed if he stays.
There are only a handful of running backs who are truly worth the kind of money that Johnson expects, and he's not one of them. Adrian Peterson leads the list of guys who are worth it, but after that it's really up for debate.
Johnson recently met with the Titans, and here is what he had to say about that meeting:
My agent and titans front office had a talk yesterday and everything is still at a stand still so it's a ... http://t.co/4hqvo95RDE— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) March 5, 2014
That just reaffirms the strong notion that Johnson is not coming back. The Titans will be fine without him with Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle in the backfield. They can also target a running back late in the draft.
In the end, the NFL is a passing league. That means solidifying the offensive line and getting the quarterback situation stabilized. Johnson just doesn't fit in the equation anymore.
Alterraun Verner Will Return to the Titans
There is no doubting how great of a season Alterraun Verner had in 2013. He was one of the very few bright spots on a 7-9 Titans team.
However, can the Titans really afford to pay him the money he wants based on one breakout season? It would be a major risk to sell the farm for Verner as solid as he was in 2013.
A recent report from Marc Sessler of NFL.com said that the Titans won't get a "hometown discount." That doesn't seem to lean toward him staying in a Titans uniform in 2014.
If Verner isn't retained, that leaves the Titans with Jason McCourty and Coty Sensabaugh. Both of these guys are talented enough to hold it down. It would still be wise for the Titans to start targeting some cornerbacks in the draft, maybe even with their 11th overall pick.
It was a great season for Verner that ended in a well-deserved trip to the Pro Bowl, but the Titans probably aren't going to give him the big payday he will most likely get somewhere else.
The Titans Will Target an LB in Free Agency
Linebacker is still a big need for the Titans as they slumped at this position last season, excluding the occasional flashes from Zach Brown.
Brown still has a high ceiling, but it gets murky after that. We're not sure if Colin McCarthy will ever return to his early form, Akeem Ayers hasn't shown much progression and Moise Fokou struggled for much of the season, as well.
The Titans could be looking to take a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft, but grabbing a big free agent at linebacker would be even more effective. They could get a guy who is immediately ready to make an impact and focus their attention on other needs with that 11th overall pick.
Jackson would be a nice fit for the Titans at inside linebacker, and he would be reunited with former defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who is heading into his first season with the Titans.
The Titans need to target a linebacker in free agency, and Jackson is a good start to head that list.
Cortland Finnegan Will Be Reunited with His Former Team
Cortland Finnegan appears to not be returning to the Rams in 2014, despite all of his spunk. Don't expect Finnegan to return to the Titans just yet, even though cornerback is an emerging need.
#Titans not interested in Cortland Finnegan. Nor should they be. Look forward, not back.— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) March 5, 2014
There's a reason that Finnegan isn't staying with the Rams, and it's basically just he's not that good. He brings a ton of passion to the field, but that doesn't always translate to effectiveness on the field.
It would make for some intriguing headlines for the Nashville media, but the value from that deal would cease after that point. The Titans need to bring up new talent at this position if they can't retain Alterraun Verner, not bring in a guy who is really all talk.
There is always the possibility that Finnegan could go for a cheap contract, but he would probably return to the Rams if that became the case. No way this deal happens.
Lamarr Houston Is a Strong Possibility at Defensive End
The Titans have a great opportunity to address their need for a defensive end in free agency, and it starts with Lamarr Houston. It is expected that Houston will not receive the franchise tag from the Raiders, says Darin Gantt from NBCSports.com.
Houston is a versatile guy who should have a ton of productive football ahead of him at age 26, and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com expects the Titans to make a run for him.
The Titans could really focus on the offensive line, linebacker and cornerback in the draft if they added a guy like Houston to their defensive line. His motor would fit perfectly into the 3-4 defense the Titans will be employing.
At this time, the intangibles and motor of Houston should be on the top of the Titans' free-agency wish list.
There's Still Room for Kamerion Wimbley
Kamerion Wimbley was essentially the consolation prize in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes just a couple of seasons ago. He had an average first season with the Titans, but really fell off last season in a defensive scheme that didn't fit his strengths.
The good news for Wimbley is the change to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2014 under defensive coordinator Ray Horton. However, can the Titans afford to pay him the $6 million he is owed?
The Titans can't pay that kind of money to a guy that may or may not put up bigger numbers in a system that suits him better. If they're going to pay that kind of money to Wimbley, then why wouldn't they pay big money to keep Verner?
Wimbley is also on the back end of his career, and the Titans have to be cautious of that, as well. He's a great athlete who may fit better with another team. However, the Titans have to turn the page on that free-agent flop.