NASHVILLE – What a week!
The free agency flurry hit the NFL, and the eruptions could be felt in Nashville, with the Titans.
General Manager Jon Robinson was a busy man.
And of course it led to plenty of questions and comments in this week’s Titans mailbag. Thanks for keeping the inbox hopping.
Let’s get to it…
Tony Malgiero from El Paso, Texas
Question: Hi Jim, I'm not sure I really like the signing of Cameron Wake. This a 37 year old pass rusher who has played 4-3 defensive end for his 10 year career in Miami. I'm assuming he'll be moved to outside linebacker in the Titans 3-4 even though I know the Titans run a multiple defense the base is still a 3-4. Maybe the idea is to use him more as a situational pass rusher, but I'm not sure that's worth 10 million in guarantees. In my opinion if they were gonna go after an aging player then go after 30 year old Justin Houston who has played the position his entire career. I don't know though, maybe Houston would be too expensive. Or maybe the plan is to pay more 4-3 in base and 4 down in nickel. It's possible with the 3 quality off ball linebackers they have in Wood, Brown, and Evans. What do you think?
Jim: Hey Tony. Appreciate you taking the time. I actually really like the move, and if you read some of the stuff written about him from Miami, you might change your mind. Yeah, he’s 37, but he was really playing at a high level last season, and he was very productive on limited snaps. Sounds like a great locker room leader for a young group as well. I left even more impressed after spending time with him on Friday. The Titans won’t expect Wake to play 80-90 percent of the snaps. He will be situational. I expect him to line up on the end in a 4-3, with his hand in the dirt most of the time. It's what he does best. But he's also capable of doing more. And I think he’ll provide a nice boost – and leadership - to a young group.
Kyle F from Columbia, Tennessee
Question: Jim, I love the veterans JRob has brought in so far in free agency. We are still a relatively young team so guys like Wake will show these young guys how to eat right! Lol. JRob has been more aggressive than I expected. So, it appears we are already in pretty good shape heading into next year even before we draft. What are the chances, with the draft being in Nashville, that JRob makes a big jump maybe into top 10 picks to get another premium young pass rusher/interior d lineman since we really do not need much more? It would be big for fans downtown that day!
Jim: Hey Kyle. With Jon, you can never say never. But at this point I kind of doubt it. It’s a deep draft, especially on the defensive line. It would take a lot to get into the top 10, and some good players will be there at 19. But I should also say this: He grinned and hinted about the possibility of picking somewhere other than 19 when asked about the draft on Friday.
Sean Duncan from Birmingham, Alabama
Question: Hey Jim. First off, thanks or all of your coverage and reports for the Titans over the years! Always great stuff! Gotta bring the Periscopes back soon! My question is a small two parter: First, after the early signing period, and seeing a couple of our pickups so far. Who would you say is your favorite so far out of Humphries, Wake, and Saffold, like who do you think can have the biggest impact? I like the Humphries move because MM always needs weapons, especially someone who is seen as dependable.
Two, I’m puzzled by the Wake deal, only because of his age, I know he’s still gonna contribute, but do you think this move signifies that we are going to go interior DL or TE early on? This draft is defense heavy but there’s not a lot of great edge guys after rounds 1-2.... I would like to see Wilkins or Ferrell, or maybe Noah Fant. Once again, Thanks!
Jim: Hey Sean. Appreciate it. I definitely need to hit Periscope again soon! I think all those guys will make a big impact. Like you, a big fan of the Humphries signing. He’s a tough and reliable receiver who gives Marcus a dependable target. Saffold upgrades the interior offensive line as well. As for Wake, I mentioned to Tony earlier I think he’s a good addition for a number of reasons, from on-field performance to locker room leadership. He’ll be a tone-setter. Ryan Tannehill is a big upgrade at QB2. Things are definitely more wide open from a draft standpoint. Good timing on mentioning Fant, because that leads me to the next question…
Pete Roark from Smyrna, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim. Why is it that all of the so-called experts keep predicting that the Titans will take a TE in the first round? They did it last year and they are already doing it this year. The Titans should have a healthy Delanie Walker coming back, a healthy Jonnu Smith coming back, who showed that he was coming into his own before he got hurt and Anthony Firkser who showed that he have good hands and can get open. The Titans have other needs for that 1st pick than TE. What are your thoughts?
Jim: Hey Pete. Well, point taken. While I’m not endorsing the team taking a tight end, I actually get where it’s coming from. Delanie is coming back, and I expect him to play at a high level in 2019. I'll never bet against him. But we can’t ignore the fact he’ll be 35 when the season starts. Also, Luke Stocker signed this week with the Falcons. Jonnu has flashed, no doubt. Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt have had their moments with the team. But some of the tight ends in this draft class are special talents. I was really impressed with Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. They’re impact players, and matchup problems. Again, I’m not saying the team needs to take a tight end at 19. But with some other needs already addressed in free agency, all options are on the table, and whichever team gets Fant or Hockenson will be getting a really good player.
Dave Maniaci from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim! I was intrigued by one of your mailbag questions last week alluring to having more fan interaction with roster selection and have come up with an idea. This question would more or less be for the NFL and Titans Controlling Owner Amy Adams Strunk. Why not have a FAN-BASED pick in the NFL DRAFT? Guidelines will be the selection will have to be a majority vote and only in the 5th round and below or something like that. If the team does not have a 5th, 6th, or 7th round pick then there will be no fan pick for the season. Who knows perhaps more people would tune in to root for the “The FAN’s” choice and maybe more game tickets could be sold? It is a way to get the fans more involved with their favorite NFL team. I think this concept would take off like wildfire! Always enjoy your stuff Jim! Mahalo.
Jim: Aloha Dave. It’s a fun thought, but it’s not going to happen. The GMs and scouts spend months and months getting ready for the draft, evaluating prospects. They’re not going to give up a pick. And with all due respect to the fans, the 6th and 7th round picks usually aren’t exactly household names -- they're oftentimes diamonds in the rough a lot of fans have never heard of. We’re not talking about them picking Kyler Murray or Christian Wilkins or Nick Bosa. A lot of the late round picks are under-the-radar guys. I think the NFL should leave the diamond hunting to the folks who do it for a living. How about a fantasy football-like draft?
Alain Zwahlen from Bern, Switzerland
Question: Hey Jim, a question about Cameron Wake. Do you think he will play inside alongside Jurell Casey or as edge rusher? I mean he's DE and not OLB. I hope my English is understandable. Greetings from Switzerland
Jim: Hello Alain. Greetings! Well, DC Dean Pees has proven to be pretty creative. My expectation, as I mentioned right out of thee gate, is Wake will be used mainly with his hand in the dirt, as an end in a 4-3 defensive front. So yes, he could line up alongside Jurrell. But I’m sure there are some scenarios where he could line up in other formations, and be used differently. He’s a nice piece in my opinion. And your English is spot on!
Jacob McCluskey from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: How's it going Jim! The Titans have been very active and busy during the free agency period, and I think all Titans fans are more than happy with the moves that are being made. My question to you is after the moves that were made in free agency as of this writing, where does this lead the draft board at for Jon Robinson? I continue to think that edge and defensive line will be the top priorities that are addressed in the first round of the draft. What are your opinions on Brian Burns and Christian Wilkins? These are two guys that I have to assume are or should be high on the Titans draft board. Burns may not have the pure athleticism like Josh Allen or Nick Bosa, but I believe he has great instincts and great movement from the point of attack. Wilkins is another physical beast of a player whose tape shows me all I care to see. I believe that the Cameron Wake signing was a great move by the Titans that allows for a vocal and physical football player to come in and mentor the young edge players on our team. I'm also a big fan of the Kevin Pamphile signing, as he was a big contributor to our early season success. Do you think he will be able to compete for a consistent role, or is he strictly reliable depth? Also, the Cleveland Browns aren't messing around this year. They see a solid window to win the division and they are taking their shot. The Titans are doing the exact same thing, and I can already tell that the game against the Titans and Browns this year is going to be a fun game. TITAN UP!
Jim: Hey Jacob. Touched on the draft being more wide open earlier. I do think the team still has a need for a big and nasty defensive lineman, and there are plenty of them in the draft. You still can’t rule out edge rushers at some point, but not necessarily at 19. I agree with you on Wake. As for Pamphile, he was a good add. He’s a versatile guy, he was solid early in 2018 in relief, and he provides depth. I’d be surprised if he bumped someone for a starting spot, though, even though the GM did mention him as a contender for the open guard spot following Josh Kline's release. But there's still some work to do on the offensive line, and there will be more additions. As for the Browns, they’ve suddenly become one of the NFL’s most intriguing teams…
Darin W from Bountiful, Utah
Question: Hello Jim. Just curious about how information is received by news and media outlets about signings and trades. Like how is it that 3rd party reporters from espn and yahoo sports and such are able to get the word before team sites such as this one? Wouldn't team paid reporters get the info first once something goes down? Or is it a matter of 3rd party guys getting the leak on moves before teams are actually ready to release the news of a new acquisition?
Jim: Hey Darin. Fair question, and I’m happy to explain because this one hits close to home for me. I've lived both sides. If you didn’t know, I used to work for The Tennessean. My job then – which is what beat writers should do – was to aggressively try to break the news. I busted it 24-7/365 days a year to try and get the news first, whether it was in free agency or any other aspect of the team, from roster moves to coaching changes to injuries to off-field mishaps to behind-the-scenes nuggets. My chief competition for free agency news was ESPN and NFL Network and all the other national reporters. I had sources with the team, and I dealt with agents. I also had other sources around the league, from players to coaches to front office folks to limo drivers to airport employees to hotel employees to family members of players to you name it, and I used them all to try and get the news before anyone else. And when I hit on news, I reported it asap to beat the competition. I didn’t get everything, but I got a lot and I can promise you I was trying on every single nugget of information, no matter how small. I lost sleep, family time, and got ulcers and migraines in doing so. But if you're a beat guy assigned to a team, that's your job. I was embarrassed when the national guys scooped me on stories in my own backyard. I did my best to keep that from happening. And I admit - a big part of me loved the chase. The job description is different for reporters working with teams, including the Titans, especially in free agency. As you noticed, news on most of the free agent deals this week came out on Monday and Tuesday, when the agents struck deals with teams. Well, free agency didn’t officially start until 3 p.m. on Wednesday. So until then, teams couldn’t announce moves for players that were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. If they did, they’d be subject to fines from the league. And even after the official start of free agency began, a lot of teams don’t announce moves until guys pass a physical, and sign. The deals for Adam Humphries and Rodger Saffold were announced by the Titans on Thursday, when they signed. Cameron Wake's deal was announced Friday, when he signed. Same for the trade for Ryan Tannehill. Also keep in mind the last thing teams want to happen is the situation with Anthony Barr, who had agreed to terms with the Jets, and then changed his mind and stayed with the Vikings. The Jets would’ve looked pretty stupid if they’d announced that deal, right? A similar thing happened with Teddy Bridgewater. So during free agency especially, teams not only have to wait to announce deals because of NFL restrictions, they also err on the side of caution. At the same time, ESPN and NFL Network and others are getting the info, from agents and other sources. Teams, meanwhile, are more concerned with making sure everything is done correctly, rather than trying to get the news out there first. Now I'll also say this: During most of the year, the team puts out the majority of the news first. But that's usually not the case during the first wave of free agency for the reasons stated above. Hope this background - and a look into my past life - helps.
Bradford Bailiff from Raleigh, North Carolina
Question: Hi Jim. I've been a long-time fan of Titans, but I don't really understand some of these free agents signings and was hoping you could explain a little more than what is said online. I like the signing of Humphries he's a great WR, but I thought Taylor was supposed to be our guy in the slot. Do the coaches see Taylor as more of a Z receiver or a back up? Secondly why did they sign Wake? I know we need help on the def line, but he's one of the oldest defense linemen out there. Maybe Darius Philon would've been better? I guess I was expecting a big names edge rusher to be signed. All in all I have some mixed feeling about the off season so far, but it's looking as good if not better than last season. Go Titans!
Jim: Hey Bradford. Taywan is going to be involved, and he’s still a stretch-the-field guy. The addition of Humphries will everyone from Marcus Mariota to Corey Davis to Delanie Walker to Derrick Henry and Taylor. When three receivers are on the field, I expect Taywan to be on there a good part of the time, and he could be out there in two-receiver sets as well. But there’s still a lot TBD. The team could still make additions here, including in the draft. The hope is the team will have a solid rotation, with quality depth. And the guys who perform best will play. I’ve hit on Wake a few times in here. I like his addition.
Mike Tate from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Good morning Jim. I wrote in a couple of weeks ago asking if my Titans would make any attempt of snagging an elite receiver (A.B.) to be exact. Saw we were one of the teams in the race super excited, then signs to Raiders and then find we are signing Adam Humphries??? Who??? Why?? I mean I'm not knocking the guy...but who?? Nine TD'S in four seasons c'mon man!!! Are we even trying?Could've found that in the draft but let’s see if we can get a decent backup. Thanks for the time see ya at the draft.
Jim: Hey Mike. You need to dig a little deeper on Humphries. He’s a really good player.
Benjamin Benter from Fredericksburg, Iowa
Question: Hey Jim. Long-time Titans fan from Iowa here. With the guys we've picked up in FA, in particular Adam Humphries, how would you feel with the Titans going to the wildcat formation more? Seems like we could utilize Dion more, while still giving Henry the carries he needs to be getting. I think we have good depth at TE and our young receivers seem to be improving, along with the addition of Humphries. I think we could keep a lot of defenses guessing. I also like the New England style offense that utilizes the slot position along with a RB catching passes in the flat, rather than going deep.
Jim: Hey Benjamin. Hey, if it works, roll with it. But I think it will be used on occasion, like last season. I can’t see it becoming a big part of the game plan, but no one can say for sure because it’s OC Arthur Smith’s show now.
Jeremy Rodriguez from San Diego, California
Question: Hey Jim, First and foremost I would like to thank the entire Titans organization for the support you all show to our Military (I'm Active Duty)! With the addition of Humphries and Saffold, which should be a great help for Marcus, will Marcus need to have a stellar, Pro Bowl type year to have a chance at a long term contract with the Titans?
Jim: Hello Jeremy. Appreciate your comment about the military, and thank you for your service! As for Marcus, well, the additions should help him, I agree. But I’m not going to say Pro Bowl or bust as far as a new contract goes. He needs to keep improving, along with all the guys around him – and the new additions.
Chris Chapman from Hermitage, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! What a flurry of trades and signings$$$. JR made a big splash with the Ryan Tannehill signing! We've done some really, really good things so far. Fans have been clamoring for us to swing big and believe the biggest and best swing so far has to be the gigantic Roger Saffold! Now that's a big body guard! I'd like to know what you think about our signings and trades so far, who's your favorite? Who's the biggest surprise lol, besides Saffold? Pardon the pun... Not that I'm pulling for this to happen but do you it’s possible that Tannehill just landed in the perfect system and has a chance to beat out MM8 for the starting gig??? God forbid MM8 goes down this season but if he does we now have a former franchise QB who cud theoretically slide right into being a Titan franchise QB. You think that was part of the thought process of the front office when they were making the deal or maybe him being a bridge QB should we have to dip back into the 2020 draft for a QB? I know I just said and asked a lot but let me be clear, I AM MM8 ALL THE WAY! Our team has immediately made themselves better just from the trades and signings over the past few days! Welcome Ryan Tannehill, Roger Saffold, and Adam Humphries! Thanks for all the info bro! WE HAVE TITANED UP NOW!!!
Jim: Hey Chris. It’s been a wild week for sure. Make sure to check all the stories on Titans Online for some of these answers, especially the QB questions. I told you to get your popcorn ready at the start of free agency. It’s been a pretty good show so far, huh?
Have a great weekend everyone!