NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans made boosting their offensive line a big focus in free agency, and they landed All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson with a multi-year contract Thursday.
Terms of the deal were not released.
“Steve is a really talented player who has had a great deal of success in this league,” general manager Ruston Webster said in a statement. “I like his leadership and his toughness and he will obviously add to the overall talent of the group upfront.”
Hutchinson visited with the Titans on Tuesday, and he also visited Seattle where he started his career before reaching a deal with Tennessee. Hutchinson did not immediately respond to a message left on his cell phone Thursday by The Associated Press.
Coach Mike Munchak said in a statement he always has liked Hutchinson and respected how he plays.
“I have evaluated hundreds of players coming out of college in my time as a coach, and he may have been the finest college guard I have watched,” said Munchak, who is a Hall of Fame guard himself. “I still see him playing at a high level, even in his 11th NFL season. He brings experience and success to our line and into the locker room. He is just an all-around good football player and we are excited to have him.”
The 6-foot-5 Hutchinson is a five-time All Pro with seven Pro Bowls. He spent the past six seasons with Minnesota before being released Saturday. A first-round pick out of Michigan in 2001, Hutchinson has blocked for Shaun Alexander in Seattle where the 2005 MVP led the league with 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns. In Minnesota, Hutchison blocked for Adrian Peterson, who averaged 1,350 yards each year the past five seasons.
Now Hutchison will help block for Chris Johnson, the sixth man in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards or more. But Johnson had a career-worst 1,047 yards in 2011 after signing a big contract extension. The Titans ranked 31st averaging 89.8 yards rushing per game.
The Titans, who spent eight hours meeting with Peyton Manning on Wednesday, also have focused on improving the offensive line. They also met Wednesday with center Scott Wells, a Tennessee native who won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, and with Houston center Chris Myers on Thursday.