Tennessee Titans: Two Former Broncos Will Be Key Contributors in 2014

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Tennessee Titans: Two Former Broncos Will Be Key Contributors in 2014
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans have been active players in the free-agent market this offseason.

They kept many of their own free agents, signing Bernard Pollard, Marc Mariani, Jackie Battle, Leon Washington and Antonio Johnson to new deals.

They also agreed to contracts with some new players such as offensive tackle Michael Oher, backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, defensive tackle Al Woods and running back-wide receiver Dexter McCluster.

But it's two former members of the Denver Broncos who could be the biggest contributors this coming season.

The Broncos chose not to retain linebacker Wesley Woodyard and pass-rushing specialist Shaun Phillips. Both men ended up in Tennessee.

Woodyard had a career year for the Broncos in 2012 and was one of the leaders of that defense. He had 117 tackles and three interceptions that season. He followed that up with 84 tackles and three forced fumbles last year.

Phillips spent just one season with the Broncos, helping the team reach the Super Bowl after they signed him over the weekend of the 2013 NFL draft.

Phillips led Denver in the sack department, tallying 10 of the team's 41 sacks. Only nine active players have more than his 79.5 career sacks.

Last season, no player on the Titans had more than 99 tackles, and the team totaled just 36 sacks. Only 10 teams had less.

Woodyard and Phillips bring experience from a team that just played in Super Bowl XLVIII. Woodyard played on a defense that ranked No. 2 in the league in 2012.

Phillips was successful in the 4-3 defense Denver used last year but has experience as a 3-4 linebacker as well, and that is where he's likely to line up in Tennessee.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton will love having both players around. He can team them with Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy to create a very formidable group of linebackers.

In Horton's defense with the Cleveland Browns last year, D'Qwell Jackson racked up 141 tackles, and the team team had 40 sacks. In Tennessee, his plan will be to create a more aggressive, attacking defense.

Woodyard is much more athletic than you'd think. He is an intelligent linebacker who quickly diagnoses plays. He can blow up a screen pass to a running back or drop back into coverage to pick up a tight end.

The Broncos essentially gave up on him last season, turning to Paris Lenon as their starting middle linebacker for their playoff run.

What was Denver's trash could easily be Tennessee's treasure.

As for Phillips, he is the perfect fit for a team transitioning to a 3-4 defense. He is still very athletic despite the fact he will turn 33 in May.

He could also be very valuable in helping former first-round draft pick Derrick Morgan turn the corner and become a more feared pass-rusher.

It's a win-win situation for Tennessee.

Last season, Phillips was one of the best free-agent acquisitions for any team, even if his signing went relatively unnoticed by fans.

Horton will put forth his best effort to improve a defense that gave up 23.8 points and 338 yards per game last season. Woodyard and Phillips will be the biggest factors in that process. 

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