After falling just short of winning the Lombardi Trophy with the Denver Broncos in 2013, linebacker Wesley Woodyard will try to make the Tennessee Titans a playoff-caliber team this coming season. The team announced a deal with Woodyard on Friday morning:
“Wesley is a player who has experience playing in both 3-4 and 4-3 systems and in our new scheme he fits as one of the inside linebackers,” said Titans general manager Ruston Webster. “He is smart and fast. He also brings the leadership qualities and intangible that we look for in a player, which makes him a good fit for us.”
According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Woodyard revealed that his time as a free agent has come to an end as he will join the Titans:
Per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the 27-year-old linebacker agreed to a four-year contract worth $16 million:
The Titans' official Twitter feed posted a photo of Woodyard signing his new contract:
Woodyard's decision to sign with the Titans comes just two days after what was apparently a fruitful visit to the New England Patriots. According to Anderson, Woodyard was encouraged by how that particular visit played out.
"The visit with the Patriots went great," Woodyard said. "I got to sit down with the coaches. I talked to (Bill) Belichick too. He told me how he sees my role with the team. I respect him a lot."
Despite that, Woodyard is pleased with his decision to play for the Titans in 2014 and beyond, per Anderson:
While the Patriots obviously have a far more successful track record in recent years than the Titans, Woodyard obviously feels as though Tennessee is a good fit.
Linebacker was definitely the biggest weakness on the Titans' defense in 2013, and all signs point toward Woodyard replacing Moise Fokou and Colin McCarthy as the main man at middle linebacker.
Woodyard started 24 games over the past two seasons in Denver, and he has three consecutive campaigns with 84 or more tackles under his belt.
He was primarily a special teams contributor and backup defender for the first few seasons of his career after going undrafted out of Kentucky in 2008, but Woodyard steadily improved and developed into a key cog on Denver's defense.
The Titans have a great deal of talent on defense, but they have been unable to put it all together. Woodyard is a do-everything linebacker who can go sideline to sideline and excels in coverage as well, so there is a lot to like about the signing from Tennessee's perspective.
Woodyard's role figures to be expanded even more so than it was with the Broncos, but based on how hard he has worked and how much he has developed over the course of his NFL career, he should be ready for the challenge.
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