After a strong free agency haul for the Tennessee Titans, Jon Robinson is looking at the 2017 NFL Draft for help at wide receiver.
It wasn’t quite the seventh day, but the Tennessee Titans and general manager Jon Robinson did rest a bit after a flurry of activity in the opening days of the free agent period. The Titans were among the most active teams in the league in the opening few days of free agency, signing five players: cornerback Logan Ryan away from the Patriots, safety Jonathan Cyprien from division-rival Jacksonville, safety Brynden Trawick from Oakland, return man Eric Weems from Atlanta and linebacker Daren Bates from the Raiders.
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The team also brought back three of its own, re-signing defensive end Karl Klug, tight end Phillip Supernaw and linebacker Nate Palmer. Trawick, Weems and Bates will all be depth/special teams players, but Ryan and Cyprien are expected to help improve the defensive unit as starters. The flurry of signings were all in the plans for Robinson, who had well over $60 million in cap space headed into the start of the new league year March 9.
While Robinson said Monday the team might not be quite done in free agency just yet, no future signings will make quite the splash that signing Ryan and Cyprien did. Here’s what else he had to say, via Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com:
“I think we are a better football now than we were when we started the process,” Robinson said. “We added some good football players to the team.
“There’s still some pretty good football players out there, and we are working through our list. If it makes sense to add them to our football team, then we’ll try and get those guys in here and talk to them, too.”
One position the Titans would definitely like to upgrade is the receiver position, where the Titans have swung and missed a lot in recent seasons. Since taking Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Titans swung and missed on tall, speed receivers Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham in the second round of the 2013 and 2015 drafts, respectively. Neither is with the team any longer. Now, neither is Wright, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Chicago as a free agent.
That will not, however, scare Robinson, who’s been on the job for just over a year, from going down the receiver road again. He knows he needs to improve the weapons for quarterback Marcus Mariota. In the same interview with Wyatt on Titansonline.com, Robinson noted that Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker will continue to see a ton or fork , but noted that the team would “look at” any option at receiver in the draft that could hep them.
Matthews, who came over as a free agent from Miami, emerged as Tennessee’s No. 1 receiver, catching 65 passes for 945 yards and nine touchdowns, all career highs—but it took some time. He had just 12 catches for 180 yards and no scores in the first quarter of the season before finally starting to click with quarterback Marcus Mariota. After that, Matthews was one of the most productive receivers in the game.
Sharpe, meanwhile, played well enough in the preseason that the team felt confident in trading Green-Beckham to Philadelphia. That confidence, however, was misplaced. Though he had seven receptions for 76 yards on 11 targets in a season-opening loss at Minnesota, that would turn out to be the high point of his season. He lost the confidence of the coaching staff at midseason and, though he had a late November two-game resurgence, he finished his rookie campaign with 41 receptions for 522 yards and two scores on 83 targets.
Sharpe certainly has the potential to be better in his second season, but beyond he and Matthews, there’s not a lot that’s going to put fear in opponents. And don’t count on any help from the 5-9, 195-pound Weems. The 31-year-old has 38 career receptions.
Robinson hit a home run in the first round of the draft last season with offensive tackle Jack Conklin with the eighth-overall pick. Conklin made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He will need to find someone just as impactful in this year’s draft at the receiver position considering what’s left on the free agent market. The Kamar Aikens and Cecil Shorts of the world aren’t going to be big difference makers.