5 Moves the Tennessee Titans Should/Shouldn't Have Made This Offseason
There's always some second-guessing to do when looking over a team's offseason, and there are a few things that maybe should have been done differently for the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans haven't made the playoffs since 2008, leaving very little room for patience with this team. The moves that were made this offseason had to be geared toward making a return to the playoffs now and not just for the sole purpose of rebuilding.
This isn't to say that the Titans haven't had a productive offseason that should leave them in a better spot than they were in when the 2013 regular season concluded.
Here are five moves the Titans should have made that may have left them in a better spot than they are in now.
Picking Johnny Manziel over Taylor Lewan
There will be plenty of critics of this suggestion because of how polarizing Johnny Manziel is, but let me elaborate on what could have been a blockbuster pick for the city of Nashville.
First and foremost, the Titans organization has become stale. No playoff berths since 2008 will do that to an organization. Manziel would have, at the very least, provided a jolt of energy to this franchise.
As good as I expect Taylor Lewan to be, the pick didn't make sense for a team that is coming off of a mediocre 7-9 season. The Titans can't afford to simply add quality depth with an 11th overall pick.
Teams that already have strong nuclei make depth picks in the draft, not teams that are in the Titans' position.
We're already seeing that Manziel will have to win the starting role with the Cleveland Browns, and the Titans could have taken the same approach with Manziel and Jake Locker. They could have made Manziel prove himself in training camp and still have had him as a backup plan in 2015. This is essentially what they're doing with Zach Mettenberger, who has plenty of questions outside of his strong arm.
There isn't a lot of risk carried with Mettenberger simply because he was taken so late in the draft. However, Manziel would've given the Titans a chance to return to the NFL spotlight.
Mettenberger may end up becoming a quality NFL quarterback, but I like Manziel's combination of skills and star power way more.
It would've been worth the risk for the Titans.
Saving Money by Not Signing Michael Oher
This coincides with the previous slide of drafting Taylor Lewan at 11th overall. The two just don't match, and one of them didn't need to happen.
The Lewan pick would have obviously made way more sense with the absence of this free-agent signing.
Sure, Michael Oher brings to the Titans a great story to go along with a relatively solid five-year career. However, why would you spend nearly $6 million when your draft plan might include drafting a rookie, one who is good enough to beat the signee out in training camp, at the same position?
That's essentially what the Titans have on their hands with Oher and Lewan. I don't see Lewan beating out Michael Roos in training camp, but he has enough talent to surpass Oher.
The Titans could have put that money elsewhere, like adding more pieces at skill positions instead of overpaying a player who may end up being a backup in 2014.
Paul Kuharksy of ESPN.com considers Oher to be a player who will have a tough challenge trying to live up to his contract, with Lewan having a good opportunity to overtake him on the depth chart.
This move was cool thanks to the well-known story that surrounded Oher's journey to the NFL, but it ends at that.
Offering More Money to Keep Alterraun Verner
The Titans put up little of a fight to keep Alterraun Verner, who was a big reason why the team even managed to win seven games in another below-average year.
If the Titans would have put up more of an effort to reward one of their own, it is my belief that they would still have Verner for a long-term deal. They would've been set at cornerback and had more flexibility in the draft.
The Titans ended up taking Marqueston Huff in the fourth round, but he won't be the immediate replacement for Verner. It will come down to Coty Sensabaugh or Blidi Wreh-Wilson, both of whom have little experience.
By letting Verner walk for a very affordable price, the Titans took a big risk with their secondary in 2014.
Meanwhile, the NFL will continue to trend toward being a pass-heavy league. The Titans could've done more to try to keep Verner, who I believe hasn't even hit his ceiling yet.
Retaining Rob Bironas
I understand the strategy of freeing up spending money by dumping your long-time kicker, but not one who has made plenty of clutch kicks to win meaningful games.
The Titans decided to cut ties with Rob Bironas, and it basically gave them yet another uncertainty.
Steve Silverman of CBS New York sees Bironas as one of the more valuable free agents still on the market.
You can't underestimate the value of having a reliable placekicker. For the Titans, it's a huge question mark. Bironas' replacement comes down to former Brazilian soccer player Maikon Bonani and rookie Travis Coons.
Bonani was on the roster last season, but he had serious accuracy issues that kept him from winning a job on the 53-man roster. As for Coons, there isn't much to go on until training camp gets underway.
This team already had enough questions surrounding it, and it certainly didn't need to add another one to the list. Too many games come down to three points or fewer, and the Titans will be relying on inexperience in 2014.
Bironas will find a new home at some point in 2014, and hopefully he won't come back to haunt the Titans with a game-winning kick.
Addressing Wide Receiver or Tight End in the Draft
You would have a big argument to prove if you said that the Titans are a more dangerous offensive team than they were at this time last year. Yes, Bishop Sankey was a good draft pick. However, he's still a rookie who has to prove it on the field.
What have the Titans really done this offseason to give Locker more weapons to throw to? The answer is not very much.
The Titans managed to sign Dexter McCluster, who will see some time as a slot receiver. There's not much else to point out after McCluster and Sankey.
It would've made more sense for the Titans to use a draft pick at some point to get another piece at wide receiver or tight end. Don't forget how thin the tight end position was after Delanie Walker in 2013.
The two picks that the Titans could have done without to make this scenario possible were the picks of Huff and Avery Williamson. Both of these guys will contribute immediately on special teams, but the Titans needed more than just that out of their rookies.
Retaining Verner would have allowed more flexibility to go for a another offensive threat outside of Sankey.
This is a team that is in a major gray area, and it needed more playmakers on the roster. The Titans lost more than they gained, as they head into training camp with big concerns at quarterback.